Too many red flags in prison sentencing proposal

A solution to prison overcrowding in Ohio that’s being shopped around triggers a lot of red flags in our minds.

Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials have been meeting with legislators and other stakeholders to explain the funding model. It would give counties funding and then subtract from that funding each time an offender is sentenced to prison.

The idea is to discourage judges from sending criminals to prison but there are plenty of dangers that go along with that.

Some critics have said the idea sounds like bribing county officials to not send people to prison and that rings a little too true.

The prison population is a legitimate concern and different possible solutions should be researched and considered but we have to wonder how the victim of a crime feels when the person that committed a crime serves a less serious sentence.

We’d hate for them to have to wonder if that decision was made for the wrong reason, not due to circumstances of the case or factors related to the perpetrator but in order to get money for the county.

Our judges are elected officials and we have to put trust in them to make the right decisions when it comes to sentencings regardless of whether this model is put in place. But doing so would put them in an awkward place, considering things they shouldn’t have to be considering when sentencing a criminal. The focus at that time should be the safety and wellbeing of the public, consequences for the person’s actions and considering whether they are likely to commit another crime. Financial well-being for the county shouldn’t be a primary motivator, and judges could potentially face pressure to make it one if a funding model like this was put into place in Ohio.