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Published: Thursday, 2/12/2009

Ohio prisons chief urges sentencing changes before inmate population soars


COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio's prisons director says unless sentencing guidelines are changed, the state's inmate population will reach 60,000 within a decade.

Terry Collins spoke Thursday to the House Finance Committee about a plan to increase the use of diversion programs and alternative punishments for nonviolent criminals.

Gov. Ted Strickland has proposed changing Ohio's sentencing laws and adding money for halfway houses so that fewer people are sent to state prison for their crimes, the most expensive option for their rehabilitation.

Ohio prisons are at 132 percent capacity with 50,719 inmates. Collins told lawmakers that without changes, Ohio would have to spend about $1 billion by 2018 to build extra space for the increased number of inmates.

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