Criminal Justice Reform and Police Accountability
Since our founding in 2007, we have fought to end mass incarceration and create a more racially and economically equitable Ohio. Our community-led campaigns work to reform the criminal justice system at state and local levels. And we are building a broad-based movement to end the criminalization of poverty and win investment in people and communities.
In order to win, we must build a multi-racial movement around a shared vision for our state and redefine the dominant narrative around safety. We position faith leaders and impacted families at the center of strategies to change the criminal justice system. And we are growing a statewide network of partners, members, and allies who build power together.
As we continue to drive a statewide decarceration campaign, OOC organizers have built local campaigns calling for new public safety priorities. Organizers engage and recruit people on the ground to be leaders in fights for police accountability, community safety, juvenile justice, restorative justice, and bail reform. Our leaders build teams in communities directly impacted by economic disinvestment, violence, over-policing, and over-incarceration.
In 2012, following years of organizing and policy work, the OOC and our partner Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) won collateral sanction reform, increasing opportunity for 1.9 million Ohioans with criminal records by removing barriers that prevented returning citizens from obtaining occupational and professional licenses.
In a span of two years, OOC member organizations won 14 fair hiring local ordinances in communities across the state.
In 2015, OOC and OJPC crafted and successfully passed the Ohio Fair Hiring Act, which “bans the box” that asks about applicants’ criminal records on all public job applications.
In 2017, OOC and OJPC passed the Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison (TCAP) program through the state budget. TCAP expands funding for counties to divert nonviolent offenders away from state prison and into community treatment and rehabilitation programs.
In 2017 in Columbus, OOC affiliates Columbus People’s Partnership and the People’s Justice Project won a major victory when, after months of direct action calling for police accountability and investment in new safety priorities, the city agreed to end the controversial Summer Safety Initiative and move funds into public health and community safety programs.
In 2018, we worked with state and national partners, including the Alliance for Safety and Justice, to launch a statewide criminal justice reform ballot initiative, where 7,000 leaders and volunteers successfully collected over 100,000 signatures, adding to the 730,000 signatures that were submitted to qualify the initiative and place it on the ballot.
Through the 2018 initiative, we effectively changed the conversation about criminal justice in the state of Ohio, resulting in the introduction of Senate Bill 3 in the Ohio General Assembly.