State Reps. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus) and Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) today issued statements following approval of early release for some 141 state prisoners serving sentences for low-level, non-violent offenses. The Democratic lawmakers called for further action to address health and safety concerns in Ohio prisons, which have already seen deaths from COVID-19.
“While I appreciate CIIC’s swift action to approve the early release of these vulnerable Ohioans, most nearing the end of their sentences for low-level, non-violent offenses, this list of 141 inmates is only a drop in the bucket given the circumstances,” said Rep. Crawley. “Ohio’s prisons are at record capacity, putting the health and safety of prisoners and staff at further risk for infection. We need to do more to reduce prison overcrowding to limit the spread and save the lives of those we’re obligated to protect.”
“Despite the best efforts of health officials and staff, the fact is that coronavirus is in our prisons—threatening the health and safety of thousands of prisoners and staff,” said Rep. Crossman. “Expanding our early release efforts for low-level, non-violent offenders and those among vulnerable populations most at risk will limit the spread and ensure the safety of more of our inmates and staff.”
COVID-19 can spread quickly in confined spaces such as prisons. Ohio has already recorded deaths of at least one inmate and corrections officer from coronavirus. As of Monday, some 119 staff and 146 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.