by German Lopez
33 days ago
Posted In: News
at 09:17 AM | Permalink
Ohio courts hurt poor, Qualls calls for streetcar hearing, House to vote on budget today
A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) found Ohio's poor are regularly victimized by illegal practices in courts that jail the state's poor for failing to pay fines they can't afford. The problem particularly afflicts the state's rural counties, which sometimes openly admit to jailing people even when they can't afford to pay fines. The ACLU says courts need to be more transparent in communicating defendants' rights, provide retroactive credits to those wrongfully incarcerated based on circumstances of poverty and consistently hold hearings to assess defendants' financial viability and willfulness to pay fines.The streetcar is being threatened by a $22.7 million budget gap, and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a Democrat who is running for mayor and has long supported the streetcar, is calling a meeting to get all the details on how the project got here and whether it's still economically viable. Qualls says it's too soon to jump to conclusions about the project's fate, and she says she would like to see the options and details laid out by City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. at the hearing. But Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley, a longtime opponent of the streetcar, is already using the news to call for the project's demise. The streetcar is one of few issues dividing the Democratic candidates in the mayoral race, which the latest poll has Qualls leading by 14 points.The Ohio House is expected to vote on a budget
today that would defund Planned Parenthood, ban comprehensive sex
education and fund crisis pregnancy centers that promote
abstinence-only, anti-abortion education. This week, the budget has been
regularly mocked by Democrats for potentially opening teachers to lawsuits if
they explain condoms, other forms of birth control and other basic sex facts to students in a
way that could lead to "gateway sexual activity."The Ohio House budget bill also fails to expand Medicaid — a failing that Moody's is warning could put hospitals at risk for budgetary shortfalls. The report points out that hospitals were supposed to get more patients through a Medicaid expansion, which would be funded almost entirely by the federal government through Obamacare, to make up for a reduction of federal reimbursements for uncompensated care. The Medicaid expansion would have insured 456,000 Ohioans and saved the state money, according to a report from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. CityBeat covered the Medicaid expansion in greater detail here.For student voters, the Ohio House budget bill would also make it more difficult to vote by forcing public universities to withhold essential documents that can be used as voter identification. The rule would make it so universities have to declare students in-state for tuition purposes when issuing them a letter or utility bill to vote, effectively costing universities extra revenue from out-of-state students if they choose to issue the documents. Democratic State Rep. Kathleen Clyde says the move will likely make it so universities never hand over the documents.This week's CityBeat commentary: "Bad Budget Ideas Confound Public Discourse."As the city wrestles with laying off cops and firefighters to balance the budget, Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig is considering a potential job offer in Detroit "very carefully." Craig interviewed for the top cop position in Detroit last week. "I'm humbled they would consider me a top candidate," Craig told The Cincinnati Enquirer.A new poll found Republican Gov. John Kasich in "reasonably good shape" for re-election, beating potential challenger Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald 46-37.Disbarred attorney Stan Chesley resigned from the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees after being asked to by fellow board members.Metro announced new direct, crosstown routes yesterday. The routes will make it easier to travel from the east to west side and vice versa.The Business Courier has a look at the top 10 worst-paying Cincinnati jobs.Five to 15 were killed and more than 150 were injured in a Texas fertilizer plant explosion yesterday.Even though a majority of 54 voted in favor and only 46 voted against it, the background checks bill for gun buyers failed in the U.S. Senate yesterday, failing to overcome what was essentially a filibuster. Ohio's senators were split on the issue, with Sen. Rob Portman voting against the bill and Sen. Sherrod Brown voting in favor. Universal background checks are supported by more than 90 percent of Americans, according to a poll from The New York Times and CBS.Scientists have found magnetic brain stimulation could remove cravings for cigarettes.
ACLU: Ohio’s poor population is regularly victimized by legal system
1 Comment · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
For most people, being charged with a
minor offense like speeding is often little more than an inconvenience.
others, though, it could literally change — or ruin — a life.
by German Lopez
State agency says Ohio will focus on lowering recidivism
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections
(ODRC) on Tuesday said it will not seek further privatization of state prisons. The announcement was made less than a week after CityBeat published an in-depth story detailing the various problems posed by privatizing prisons (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19).
Gary Mohr, director of ODRC, made the announcement while
talking to legislative reporting service Gongwer in Columbus Tuesday.“We're going to stay the course on those (sentencing reforms) and I think privatizing
additional prisons would take away from that reform effort that we have,
so I'm not anticipating privatizing any more prisons in the short term
here,” he told Gongwer.
Ohio became the first state to sell one of its own prisons to a
private prison company in 2011. The ACLU criticized the move for its potential conflict of interest. The organization argued that the profit goal of private prison
companies, which make money by holding as many prisoners as possible,
fundamentally contradicts the public policy goal of keeping inmate reentry into
prisons and prison populations as low as possible.In his comments to Gongwer, Mohr said the state will now focus on lowering recidivism, not increasing privatization: “I don't think you can go through upheaval of a system and continue to
put prioritization on reform at the same time. I think if we
were to re-engage again on privatization of prisons, then we're going to
take the eye off the ball a little bit, and I think we're making great
progress. It's a matter of focus.”In the past,
the ACLU and other groups criticized Mohr's previous ties to private
prison companies — particularly his private work for Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA) before he became the director for ODRC. CCA
in 2011 became the first private company in Ohio's history to purchase a state prison. The connection presents another possible conflict of interest, and it is only one of the many connections between CCA and Gov. John Kasich's administration.
Mike Brickner, ACLU researcher and director of communications and public policy, praised ODRC's decision in a statement: “Despite
millions spent by private companies trying to convince policy makers
and local governments otherwise, numerous studies have shown private
prisons put their own profit ahead of good public policy. ODRC is wise
to see that the privatization model distracts from their important
efforts to shrink inmate population and reduce recidivism.”
But Brickner also made further demands from the state: “ODRC
should go a step further by making a commitment not to privatize
additional prison services such as food and medical care. Arguments for
privatizing these services use the same faulty logic as the arguments
for privatizing entire prisons.”
CityBeat was not able to immediately reach ODRC for comment on Mohr’s announcement. This story will be updated if
comments become available.
During the course of researching and reporting last week's story on prison privatization in Ohio, CityBeat found the ODRC to be dismissive of our interest in speaking with Mohr or a spokesperson about private prisons. During two weeks of correspondence, CityBeat received numerous excuses as to why the ODRC couldn't grant an interview and eventually received two emails with the exact same statement — one from ODRC, a state
department, and one from Management and Training Corporation, a private
company that manages prisons in Ohio. The statement added a strange twist to the already-suspicious fact that the ODRC didn't want to talk about its prison privatization plan with the media. A full explanation of the issues ODRC posed to the reporting process can be found in the editor's note at the end of the cover story.
Should Ohio inmates be commodities in a for-profit venture?
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Security and public policy risks, along with research suggesting that private prisons don't save taxpayer money, paint a grim picture of Ohio’s public and budget health as the state moves to monetize prison inmates.
by Danny Cross
City Council is expected to vote this morning to divert
the $4 million for the City Hall atrium project to jumpstart the Music
Hall renovation, which has brought the city and arts supporters
interested in owning and operating the historic venue closer to a
compromise. Council could vote on the renegotiated deal later Wednesday,
though details of the lease agreement have yet to be released.
Council is also expected to approve a property tax
increase of $10 per $100,000 in valuation to fund capital projects such
as a new West Side police station and additional road paving.
Today’s Hamilton County Transportation Improvement
District meeting will include a presentation about the Brent Spence
Bridge that will probably include polls.
Gov. John Kasich today will sign a human trafficking bill
that makes the crime a first-degree felony rather than second-degree and
includes funding to help victims.
The ACLU will represent the Ku Klux Klan in a legal fight involving Georgia’s highway cleanup program and a pending First Amendment lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will rule on President Obama’s health care law.
Obama and Biden are still jamming Romney up on his outsourcing history.
A Walgreens store and other pharmacies in Washington, D.C. are offering free HIV
tests to make diagnosing the disease more convenient and to increase
College football has approved a four-team playoff to
determine its national championship rather than the computer-human
two-team plan that has faced scrutiny over the years. The new format
will start in the 2014-15 season.
Intelligent design tries to pass as science — again
12 Comments · Wednesday, September 28, 2011
It was never
close to becoming an Ohio
version of Inherit the Wind, but a recent effort to bring a
creationism class to public school students in Springboro has been
quietly dropped after it received widespread criticism and a threatened
lawsuit by the ACLU.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It's about time that someone of note said it publicly. During a June 9 conference of progressive activists, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero declared, "I'm disgusted with this president." No, Romero wasn't repeating any of the outlandish attacks that Tea Partiers and far right kooks have made about President Obama personally. Rather, he was referring to Obama's policies on civil liberties and national security issues, which have contradicted his campaign promises from 2008.
Survivor of Ohio’s latest botched execution speaks out
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Romell Broom achieved a macabre notoriety this past month when he became the first man to survive his date with the needle — not just in Ohio, but anywhere. The convicted rapist and murderer endured more than two hours of poking and stabbing before his execution was called off indefinitely. The eyes of the world are on Ohio now, and many are questioning our death-penalty apparatus.