Q: A relative of mine was sentenced today to 4 years in prison. How does the Department determine which prison an inmate is assigned?
A: Your relative will be transported to one of three reception centers in Ohio. Female inmates are sent to the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Male inmates, depending of the county from which they are sentenced, are sent to either the Correctional Reception Center in Orient or the Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton. Each inmate is evaluated by mental health, education, medical, and unit staff. Inmate security level classification is determined through the consideration of pre-commitment variables such as: age at current commitment, current offense(s), security level when last released from prison, history of violence, gang affiliation or drug use, and escape history. Institution assignments are arrived at by matching inmate requirements (security level, medical, education, separations, etc.) with the institution available to best meet those needs. Once assigned to an institution, the inmate’s security level is reviewed at least annually. Based on the inmate’s adjustment, a reclassification to a higher or lower security level can be made that could result in an institutional transfer. Inmates generally spend between six and eight weeks at the reception centers before being transferred to their “parent institution.”
Q: How can an inmate obtain an institutional transfer?
A: Inmate initiated transfers are guided by the new policy 53-CLS-09. The inmate must make a formal, written request to their case manager if they qualify. An inmate may only initiate a transfer for the approved reasons in CLS-09 including Reintegration Unit Transfers, Visiting Transfers, Education Transfers (only certain programs qualify), Recovery Transfers (only certain programs qualify), OPI transfers and Requests for Inmates submitted by other Wardens. Visitors and family cannot initiate a transfer on behalf of an inmate. An inmate has no right to a transfer and the ODRC reserves the right to disapprove a transfer for good correctional management reasons, including but not limited to: the inmate’s behavior, the inmate’s previous behavior when they received a transfer, the frequency of inmate requests for transfers and the bed needs of the system.
Q: What about a visiting hardship transfer?
A: There is no longer a “visiting hardship” transfer. It has been changed to a general visiting transfer. Inmate families and friends will no longer be required to provide proof of any hardship. They will however, have to explain how they will be a pro-social influence on the inmate and commit to visiting the inmate after the transfer is completed. If an inmate is moved for visiting reasons , but does not receive visits, they may be returned to a previous status. Once again, these transfers cannot be initiated by visitors, there is no need to telephone or write a letter requesting such a transfer. When an inmate makes the formal request to his/her case manager, if he qualifies for the transfer, a form will be sent to the visitor. This form requires the visitor to verify their residency and answer some basic questions. Once you send that back in, the committee will consider that decision.
A; No, inmates may not choose specific prisons when they initiate a transfer. In general, the ODRC will attempt to move them into the same Catchment Area where their visitor resides. A Catchment Area is a region served by a particular prison. The goal is to try to move inmates within a 1-2 hour drive (one way) of their positive social support network. We understand this can be a burden on families and friends, but there are not enough prisons located near the most populated areas to provide this for all who qualify. Therefore, providing some inmates with the right to choose a prison while others could not move as close, was not a fair and equitable system. Furthermore, there are many different forms of hardship from physical/mental ailments, to financial, family and work related issues. Trying to determine which person has more of a hardship than another, while still respecting privacy, was not a reasonable possibility.