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Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Frequently Asked Questions

Offenders


1) What types of offenders are committed to prison in Ohio?
In Fiscal Year 2014, 20,120 offenders were committed to the state prison system (17,302 males; 2,818 females). Categorized under their most serious offense, approximately 26% of these offenders were incarcerated for drug related offenses (e.g., drug abuse, trafficking); 14% were committed for miscellaneous property offenses (e.g., arson, theft, receiving stolen property, breaking and entering); approximately 25% were committed for crimes against persons (e.g., robbery, assault, domestic violence, homicide-related offenses); 11% were committed for burglary; 7% were incarcerated for sex offenses (e.g., gross sexual imposition, rape). The remaining individuals were incarcerated for motor vehicle, fraud, or firearm offenses, as well as offenses against justice/public administration and other miscellaneous felonies. (See Commitment Reports)

2) What is the average reading level of offenders coming into Ohio prisons?
The average reading level of inmates received by the Department is a grade level of 7.5. Further 80% of the offenders are high school drop outs.  Approximately 30% of the males and 20% of the females read at less than a 6th grade education and are considered functionally illiterate.

3) I believe my brother was incarcerated in an Ohio prison in the late 1940's. How can I verify this information?
You should call the Ohio Historical Society, Archives/Library Research Services Department at 614-297-2510. It houses records for the Ohio Penitentiary from 1829 to 1973; the Ohio Reformatory from 1896 to 1968; Ohio Reformatory for Women, from 1913 to 1942; and the London Prison Farm from 1908 to 1949. Current inmate records and records of inmates incarcerated after 1973 are housed at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Central Inmate Records at 614-752-1076.
 
4) A relative of mine was sentenced today to 4 years in prison. How does the Department determine to which prison an inmate is assigned?
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 on 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."

5) How can an inmate obtain an institutional transfer?
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.

6) What about a visiting hardship transfer?
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 you to verify your residency and answer some basic questions. Once you send that back in, the committee will consider that decision.
 
7) Can the inmate choose a specific prison?

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 and 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.

8) What is meant by "level 3" security?
Ohio has a five-tier classification system: Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. All new inmates are classified as "level 3" security until the formal reception process has been completed. Level 5 security inmates are the most closely supervised group, followed by level 4, level 3, level 2 and, finally, level 1.  
The Ohio State Penitentiary near Youngstown is the only Level 5 facility, housing up to 500 of Ohio’s most predatory and dangerous inmates.  Level 4 inmates are housed at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, the Ohio State Penitentiary, the Toledo Correctional Institution, and the Allen Correctional Institution (Protective Control). The Franklin Medical Center can house both level 4 and level 5 security inmates needing medical treatment.   

9) How is the offender's security level determined?
This decision is based on the following:  current age; seriousness of the crime; prior offenses; most recent violence (not including the current offense); gang activity before going to prison; and present and past escape attempts.
 
10) Is an inmate's disciplinary finding appealable?
Yes, an inmate may appeal the Rules Infraction Board's (RIB) decision to the Warden. If the inmate is not satisfied with the Warden's response, the next step is to appeal the decision to the Director's Office.

11) What is segregation?
This is an area of the institution where inmates are placed to separate them from the general population. Prisoners often refer to this area as "the hole," but in reality it is simply an area to house inmates who must be separated from others because of security control, disciplinary control, or local control.

  • Security Control (SC) is the status of an inmate who is pending a hearing by the Rules Infraction Board for a rule violation, under investigation or pending institutional transfer and needs to be separated from the general population.
  • Disciplinary Control (DC) is the status of an inmate who was found guilty by the Rules Infraction Board and his or her penalty is to serve DC time. An inmate may serve up to 15 days in DC.
  • Local Control (LC) is the status of an inmate who was referred to the Local Control Committee by the Rules Infraction Board. The committee will decide if the inmate has demonstrated a chronic inability to adjust to the general population or if the inmate's presence in the general population is likely to seriously disrupt the orderly operation of the institution. A committee reviews the inmate's status every 30 days for release consideration. The inmate may serve up to 180 days in LC.
 
12) How many inmates are currently on death row in Ohio?
For a complete listing of inmates on death row in Ohio, please see www.drc.ohio.gov/public/deathrow.htm.

Inmate Visiting, Mail, and Phones


1) An inmate from an Ohio correctional institution is collect calling my home. What can I do to prevent this?
Please refer to the Offender Phone Services page for information on how to deal with this issue.  You can also contact Global Tel*Link at 1-877-650-4249 to request that your telephone number be blocked.
2) Why is it necessary to have a random announcement on the telephone line saying "This call originates from a correctional institution in Ohio," when I was informed of the same thing before I accepted the call?
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has granted inmates the privilege of making collect telephone calls to family and friends. Inmates have attempted to use the Inmate Call Out Program to engage in criminal activity such as telecommunication fraud and harassment, while serving sentences in Ohio prisons. This announcement is designed to inform those who may have not received the initial announcement should a third party become involved. Third parties are commonly added to calls by using "call transfer" or "3-way calling" features.  Third party calls are not permitted.

3) Why are the phone rates so much higher than the normal collect long distance calls?
Additional equipment that is not installed for regular long distance service must be installed for the inmate class of telephone service.  It is used to control and monitor the privilege of making telephone calls. This equipment was installed at no expense to the taxpayers of Ohio and is supported through the users paying for the service. Additionally, a portion of the cost of the call is returned to the ODRC and is used to support inmate recreation and other programs such as substance abuse. The telecommunications companies supplying the service to each institution received their contract by submitting a competitive bid.
Global Tel*Link offers several discount prepaid calling programs including prepaid destination and offender phone debit calling. Both programs offer a 20% discount over the traditional collect calling services. [Back to Top]
4) Why can't the inmates have a credit card, prepaid long distance calling card or use a personal 800 number to make long distance calls?
The Administrative Regulations that govern inmate conduct forbid the use of a credit card by inmates. Inmates however can purchase phone time with Global Tel*Link at the commissary or their family and friends can deposit phone funds to the inmate by calling Global Tel*Link at 888-265-1238 accessing www.offenderconnect.com or by placing funds at one of the kiosk machines located at any ODRC facility location.  
5) Why are there time limits on calls?
Time limits are imposed to allow all inmates to use the phone system.  Each institution’s Warden sets the time limit based on the number of available telephones as well as the security level and behavior of the inmate population.
6) What am I allowed to mail an inmate in prison?
As of January 1, 2007, all packages received by an inmate must be ordered through Keefe Group/Access Securepak or Union Supply Direct.

Clothing and food items are permitted to be sent to Level 1, 2, 3, 4A and Death Row inmates. Level 4B, 5, Reception and Intensive Prison Program inmates cannot receive packages.  However, there are limitations to the number of packages that may be sent. Inmates (patients) with long-term placements at the Franklin Medical Center (FMC), Frazier Health Center (FHC) or Oakwood Correctional Facility (OCF) may receive packages with the approval of the Warden. Otherwise, FMC and FHC inmates are ineligible to order or receive packages. Similarly, inmates who have been sent to outside hospitals or who are assigned to disciplinary control or local control are ineligible to order or receive packages. Institutions provide inmates with a list of items they may receive; this list may vary from prison to prison.  It is the responsibility of the inmate to provide you with the list and the proper mailing guidelines.

7) Do Ohio prisoners have access to computers for e-mail correspondence?
No, Ohio inmates do not have direct access to e-mail. You may correspond with an inmate via the U.S. Mail or by using JPay, an innovative electronic mail system (this program does NOT provide inmates with direct email access). 
On correspondence sent via U.S. Mail, please include the offender's inmate number. The inmate number can be obtained by calling Central Inmate Records at 614-752-1076 or accessed through our Offender Search. Prison addresses can be found on our Addresses page.
8) Can inmates receive money while in prison?
Up to $200 from an approved (or tentatively approved) visitor may be deposited into an inmate's personal account by mail, online, kiosk and telephone. Please refer to http://www.drc.ohio.gov/web/inmate_funds.htm web page for more information. 
9) How can I visit an inmate?
An inmate must request to place your name on his or her visiting list. The staff forwards a visiting application to you for completion.  You may also print a visitation application from our visiting page. Once returned, the staff reviews the application and approves or denies per the visiting policy.  Click here for additional visiting information.
10) When can I visit an inmate?
Dates and times in which visits are permitted vary. The individual that you wish to visit is responsible for sending you the guidelines to follow and the visiting schedule. You may also obtain this information by calling the institution's visiting office or going to our visiting page.

Victim Services


1) I was the victim of a crime, and the offender was sentenced to an Ohio prison. How can I learn when he might be released?
You should contact the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Office of Victim Services at 1-888-842-8464. Victims of inmates incarcerated in Ohio's prisons may register to be notified prior to any release consideration (parole) of the inmate. Upon receiving notice, they may either write to the Ohio Parole Board or personally voice their opinion in an interview with a Parole Board staff person. These interviews are conducted by phone or in person during "victim conference day." Victim conference day is held once a month for this purpose.

Staff will notify persons who have requested notification in the event of one of the following:
  • Inmate escapes
  • Death of inmate
  • Release from prison to community supervision
  • Pending execution of inmate
  • Upcoming parole hearings
2) I understand that the offender in my case is being paroled. While I do not oppose this release, I do not want contact with him or her. What can I do?
If you would like to ask the Parole Board for a "special condition" of no contact, please call the Office of Victim Services (1-888-842-8464) or the Ohio Parole Board (614-752-1200) to see if it is possible to have this included in its decision.

3) The offender in my case will be under supervision in the community upon his or her release from prison. Can I find out the name of his or her parole officer?
Yes, if you would like to find out who the parole officer will be for an offender, contact the Office of Victim Services (1-888-842-8464) or the Placement Section of the Adult Parole Authority (614-752-1121).
4) I have been receiving threats or unwanted contact from an inmate. What can I do?
Contact the Office of the Victim Services or the institution where the correspondence is coming from to ask for assistance. 

Parole


1) What criteria are used in parole release decisions?
Release decision-making is complicated by the diversity inherent in human behavior. Since parole is a privilege, not a right, parole hearings are not subject to the evidentiary and due process rights afforded those accused of a crime. Since due process and guilt issues have been resolved prior to sentencing, public safety is the only criteria for release decisions. Parole hearings provide for the repeated review of the criminal in prison; continual reevaluation of the risk that offenders present to society; leverage over offenders before they are released; careful supervision upon release; and the potential to re-imprison those who appear to be a threat to the community.

Under sentencing laws in effect prior to July 1, 1996, many offenders were sentenced to indeterminate terms of imprisonment. These sentences may have wide-ranging minimum and maximum terms. The Ohio Parole Board is empowered to manage these investments in public safety by determining if or when release is appropriate during this range of years. Release on parole is a privilege that must be earned. Violent and dangerous offenders are targeted for longer periods of incarceration.

Considered at each hearing is the need for further incapacitation, punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation. Current and past patterns of offense behavior are considered. A statistical risk assessment, validated by periodic research, is used at each hearing. Psychological and psychiatric evaluations are required for violent offenders as part of the evaluation process. By law, the Ohio Parole Board must consider input from the sentencing judge, prosecutor, and victims when the information is available. Offender participation in programs designed to reduce the risk of reoffending is expected and encouraged.

Careers


1) Where can I get information about available jobs at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction?
You can download current job vacancies by going to the "Employment" link and click on the icon "Statewide." This will connect you with the State of Ohio Job Search page. From there you may search vacancies by agency, title or county as well as access the current list of civil service exams. You may also view our job vacancies at any correctional institution, central office in Columbus, the Civil Service Testing and Information Office at 30 E. Broad St, Columbus, Oh, 28th floor, or any One-Stop Employment and Training Centers in your local areas.

Many vacancies are filled by current employees governed by existing labor agreements, usually noted as "internal postings."  Yet many others are filled through vacancy announcements and civil service exams.  Please review the Web site at http://das.ohio.gov/hrd/applinfo.html for tips on completing the civil service application.
2) What types of jobs are available?
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is Ohio's largest state agency, with over 13,000 employees. Over half of those employees are corrections officers. We also employ nurses, teachers, doctors, information technology professionals, parole officers, social workers, clerical support, psychologists, account clerks, librarians, maintenance, food service workers, and other specialized services that are necessary to maintain our prison community.