Criminal Justice Reform

From police training to prison reform to diverse jury pools, there is so much Ohio must do to improve our criminal justice system.

There is so much that Ohio must do to improve our criminal justice system.

1.) Step One: We have to fund local governments properly so we can fund police training.

Over the past several years, the Kasich administration has gutted local government funding to pay for massive tax loopholes for wealthy Ohioans.

  • When local governments lose funding, they are forced to make cuts. And they often cut things like police trainings first.
  • Why? Because it’s a lot easier to cut police training than to lay off police.
  • But that’s not fair to anyone in the communities, or to the officers we’re putting out on the streets.

One of Joe’s top priorities has been to restore local government funding so we can have proper deescalation training, crisis training, mental health training, and cultural awareness training.

2.) Joe has also cosponsored several bills to expand officer training.

  • Including Senator Cecil Thomas’ SB 23, to increase resources and requirements for training.

3.) Ohio needs a program that incentivizes law enforcement officers to live where they work.

  • Baltimore recently implemented a program to incentivize officers and first responders to live in the communities they serve.
  • This helps create an environment in which officers and community members know each other personally – as neighbors – which encourages communication and trust.

4.) No one is above the law – including law enforcement.

  • If a police-involved shooting is suspicious, the officer should have to prove just like everyone else that they had genuine cause. Otherwise, people lose trust in the system.
  • We’ve all seen several troubling videos and images of police-involved shootings over the past couple years. And we haven’t seen many of those officers go through the proper court process to determine what happened. That erodes trust in law enforcement as a whole. We must reverse this trend for the safety of police and community members.

5.) Joe has detailed plans based on his bills at the Statehouse that will decrease the number of Ohioans in prison.

  • Joe’s plan to address the opioid crisis would focus on treatment and rehab rather than jail time.
  • In Youngstown, Joe helped create special courts for veterans and those with mental health issues that favor treatment over prison. As Governor, Joe would encourage the expansion of these types of courts throughout the state.
  • Joe has detailed plans to reform Ohio’s education system so that ALL districts have quality schools, career tech programs, and pre-k options. We have to end the school-to-prison pipeline, and a quality, affordable education from pre-k through higher ed would be a huge step forward.
  • A big piece of Joe’s plan to decrease gun violence in Ohio involves expanding mental health resources and counselors in schools through wraparound service models. This would help catch warning signs of dangerous behavior before incidents occur, and would likely also help prevent some students from ending up in the criminal justice system at a young age.
  • Joe supports legalizing recreational marijuana in a real and responsible way. It is unacceptable that Ohio sends people to prison for using or selling a substance that is completely legal just a few states away from here.

6.) As a state senator, Joe has also fought hard against the privatization of state industries such as prisons.

  • Joe and his colleague Senator Cafaro introduced a bill requiring the Governor to get consent from a commission before closing/selling entities run by the state. That provision made it all the way through the Statehouse only to be line item vetoed by Governor Kasich.
  • When prisons become for-profit, it creates a motivation to make more money by letting more people rot in jail under worse living conditions. That is inhumane and unacceptable.

7.) As Governor, Joe will also push to reform Ohio’s jury pool, so the “jury of your peers” looks more like the general population.

  • Other states have accomplished this by, for example, selecting jurists based on drivers’ licenses rather than voter registration. It can be done – we just need a leader who wants to do it!

Joe also welcomes all input on ways to improve Ohio’s criminal justice system. 

  • Please send policy ideas to his Statehouse office:
  • To speak with the campaign, email