On Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law Senate Bill 288, a package of criminal justice measures which includes key improvements to the state’s justice system. 

The most significant provision boosts incentives for incarcerated individuals to complete addiction treatment and job training programs by allowing them to earn some time off their period behind bars by doing so.  

Gaining the job skills necessary to reenter society as contributing members reduces the likelihood they will recidivate. Additionally, more offenders will be treated for addiction issues that often were a driving factor in their crime. This is a proven approach that saves resources that can be focused on problem offenders and helps improve public safety.  

This bill also makes expunging criminal records and sealing certain records more straightforward. Expungement would be limited to three years after completion of a sentence for misdemeanors, and 10 years for the nonviolent felonies. These measures have been shown to have a positive effect on formerly incarcerated individuals’ ability to get housing and find better jobs.  

According to a study from the University of Michigan Law School, wages of formerly incarcerated individuals increased by 20% on average following one year of the expungement of their records, and that re-arrest for those with expunged records is exceedingly rare. Additional figures from the Justice Department show that re-arrest for former nonviolent offenders five years or more after release is rare. 

The bill also creates new penalties for some violent offenses. You can read more about the bill and signing here.  

Upon signing the bill, Governor DeWine said, “I think legislators should be complimented on the fact that they reached out to prosecutors, that they reached out to defenders, that they reached out to law-enforcement agencies.” 

The policies included in this bill follow proven, conservative efforts from across the states that show how to move the ball forward on criminal justice policy while putting public safety first and better stewarding taxpayer dollars.