Ohio lawmakers to consider state-run prison factories
By Jeremy Pelzer
Northeast Media Group
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A prominent Republican legislator proposes for Ohio to build and operate prison factories that would employ inmates to make and publicly sell goods that American manufacturers don't offer.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Butler introduced legislation last week to set up a pilot program. The size and location of the program would depend on the number of inmates who ask to participate.
The Dayton-area lawmaker said he came up with the idea several years ago, before he took office, and was spurred on by reports by the Northeast Ohio Media Group and others about the state's escalating prison population and work programs.
The prison factories, he said, would help to reduce Ohio’s prison population by providing job training that inmates need to show judges they are ready for early release and to avoid returning to prison after their release.
Under House Bill 407, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction would construct manufacturing facilities inside prisons for higher-risk inmates who want to work. Non-violent inmates could work at plants built outside the prisons.