Ohio’s head of corrections Gary Mohr made a passionate call for sentencing reforms during a speech Friday at the City Club of Cleveland.
Mohr said he’ll be leaving his post soon with a heavy heart over one issue.
“We have actually increased the number and the percentage and the density of people coming to prison in 2017, whose most serious offense is drug possession, compared to 2015,” said Mohr. “Are we going in the right direction? I don’t think so.”
Mohr said that Ohio’s sentencing laws don’t allow for enough alternatives to prison for people addicted to drugs.
“I believe we need a change in this state. I think sentencing laws need to be changed,” said Mohr. “How a person spends time in prison should count. If they’re in evidence-based programs, it should count for something. If they hurt one of my staff, it should also count for something.”
Last month, Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 66 into law, which allows for more rehabilitation options instead of prison time for nonviolent drug offenders.
Additionally, Issue 1 on this November’s ballot would amend the state constitution to classify low level drug possession offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies.
Mohr also called for more treatment options inside of prison and moving more prisoners into community-based rehab programs.
Mohr has worked in corrections for 44 years. He became director of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitations and Corrections in 2011.