We work with stakeholders at the local level to change how and why people are kept in jail as they await trial. We believe it should not pay to lock up poor people.
Today, black, brown, and white Ohioans across the state are incarcerated simply because they are unable to post bond. Under a system that punishes people for being poor, families have lost jobs, homes, and custody of children. With the dramatic rise of opioid addiction in counties across Ohio and the inaccessibility of affordable healthcare, jails have become de facto destinations for treatment services.
But Ohio cannot incarcerate itself out of poverty, addiction, and mental illness.
Jails across Ohio are overcrowded and dangerous. In the last two years, over 20 people have died in Cuyahoga, Montgomery, and Hamilton County jails. The OOC is organizing to end cash bail in these three counties and achieve bail reform through the state legislature.
In Ohio, individuals serving time for felony offenses are prevented from voting if they are still incarcerated on Election Day; otherwise, these individuals are eligible to vote. OOC member organizations in Cleveland and Cincinnati are working with individuals who are incarcerated to inform them of their rights and register them to vote. We believe that those who are directly impacted by the criminal justice system must be central decision makers around the policies that govern their lives.
In Cuyahoga, OOC is leading a coalition to address conditions in the county jail. We have collected over 500 signatures for our petition and mobilized hundreds of community members to our public events calling for sweeping reforms.
In Hamilton County, OOC Cincinnati bail reform team worked with the City Council to develop and introduce a policy end cash bail for those facing nonviolent misdemeanor charges. The OOC organized key leaders from six congregations and organizations to advocate for the policy through successful press actions.
In Dayton, OOC held a training in partnership with Legal Aid to educate residents about legislation offering amnesty to more than 1 million Ohioans with a suspended license due to court costs, fines, and other reasons. The training drew over 350 people, and we were able to reinstate licenses on the spot. We trained many of those who attended in community organizing and connected them with local campaigns for bail reform and criminal justice reform.
In 2019, OOC organized a two-day People’s Assembly to promote harm reduction and criminal justice reform and protect the social safety net from cuts and work requirements. We met with over 21 state legislators and mobilized over 100 people to three direct actions at the statehouse, Supreme Court, and Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.