Scioto County Commissioners Chairman Bryan Davis has received an appointment to the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) Justice and Public Safety Committee for 2017.
That committee covers many of the issues surrounding courts, such as the indigent defense reimbursement and Felony-5 initiative, as well as public safety, which addresses the opioid epidemic and children’s services crisis affecting the state now.
“I wanted to be appointed so I could share Scioto County’s experience and help craft legislation by lobbying for reforms and new ideas to improve our laws and procedures being created in Columbus,” Davis said. “This will in turn help our citizens here in Scioto County and elsewhere.”
The committee’s first meeting was cancelled and rescheduled for March 21. The format has been changed to an all-hands in person meeting to primarily discuss the felony-5 initiative, which also has an impact on the current opioid epidemic.
“The felony-5 initiative is a proposal to keep non-violent, mostly drug -offense related, felony-5 offenders out of the adult prison system and incarcerated close to home where they can receive true rehabilitation services,” Davis said. “Scioto County is looking at this in cooperation with STAR Community Justice Center. We are also looking to possibly have other entities involved. Our common pleas judges would need to approve of this and talks are ongoing.”
Davis said he is hoping to work with his fellow commissioners and CCAO staff members to lobby on behalf of all counties for a higher indigent defense reimbursement rate, more funding for children’s services, law enforcement and juvenile courts for care of children who are victims of crime as well as preventive educational opportunities as a result of the drug epidemic, tackle the opioid epidemic head on while working to increase funding to municipal and county health department, and to work toward a solution to the current jail overcrowding issues regionally and state-wide.
In 2016, approximately 8,300 of the nearly 20,000 individuals committed to prison were sent to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to serve one year or less. Approximately 4,100 of those commitments were for Felony- 5 offenses, the lowest felony level. The pilot program from ODRC targets non-violent Felony-5 offenders who are estimated to be approximately 3,400 of the Felony 5 commitments statewide. The program calls for assisting local communities to manage low-level offenders as a less costly, more effective alternative to state prison.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.