Where John Kasich Stands on Criminal Justice Reform

intern 2016 Profiles

March 26, 2015

We’re taking a look at where the 2016 Presidential Candidates stand on justice reform. See how the rest of them stack up.

KasichAs governor, Kasich supported efforts to help non-violent ex-offenders get jobs and has supported sentencing reform bills.

On sentencing reform:

  • In 2011, John Kasich signed a sentencing reform bill that gave judges the distraction to send non-violent fourth- and fifth-degree felons to community-based halfway-house facilities instead of prison. The bill also increased the earned credit system so that inmates can more quickly earn reductions of their sentences, and allows some felons who have already served 80 percent of their time to be immediately released.
  • In 2000, as U.S. Representative, Kasich voted no on an amendment that would reduce the funding for violent offender imprisonment and truth-in-sentencing programs by $61 million. The measure would increase funding for Boys and Girls Clubs and drug courts by the same amount.
  • In 1999, as U.S. Representative, Kasich voted yes to pass a bill to appropriate $1.5 billion to all of the states that want to improve their juvenile justice operations. Among other provisions this bill includes funding for development, implementation, and administration of graduated sanctions for juvenile offenders, funds for building, expanding, or renovating juvenile corrections facilities, hiring juvenile judges, probation officers, and additional prosecutors for juvenile cases.
  • At the January Fox Debate, Kasich said: “We have treated the drug-addicted in our prisons and we released them in to the community, and our recidivism rate is less than 20 percent. That’s basically bordering on a miracle because of our great prison director. The mentally ill? They’ve been stepped on for too long in this society, and we are beginning to treat them.. Give people a chance. We talked about criminal justice reform. We’ve enacted it in our state.”

On rehabilitation, treatment programs, and alternatives to prison:

  • In August 2015, during a GOP debate, Kasich said, “Eighty percent of the people in our prisons have addictions or problems,” Kasich added. “We now treat them in the prisons, release them in the community and the recidivism rate is 10 percent.”
  • In May 2015, as governor, Kasich signed Ohio’s bill to “ban the box,” meaning that starting on June 1, 2015, criminal offenders in Ohio will no longer have to check a box requiring them to reveal past convictions on state civil service job applications.
  • At a May 2015 luncheon: “We have 10,000 people in our prisons who have mental illness,” Kasich said, apparently referring to an estimatefor the state of Ohio. “Reese and I were watching 60 Minutes one Sunday and they were having this story of them locking the mentally ill up in the prisons and she looked at me and she said, ‘Daddy, why are those people being locked up?’ I couldn’t answer her satisfactorily, other than to say, ‘We seem to ignore these people.’ Now I don’t know how many of you know people who struggle with these illnesses but if you’ve got a problem with schizophrenia and you find yourself in a prison? It’s a disgrace in this country.”
  • In 2012 as governor, Kasich signed a bill that removed the barriers for non-violent ex-offenders to get a job and expunge their criminal record.
  • On the bill, Kasich said: “This is a case where people who are convicted of felonies are basically denied an opportunity to do some really simple things that would allow them to be reintegrated into our society. If you are convicted of a felony, and that could be a non violent felony… You can’t get a commercial driver’s license. So we have 5,000 truck driving jobs in the state of Ohio, and you can’t drive a truck.”
  • Kasich further said that, though he considered the movement to legalize drugs a form of “insanity,” his administration was committed to “rehabbing the drug addicted,” including those behind bars.
  • “We believe that by treating people in the prisons and releasing them into the community for treatment, our recidivism rate could be as low as 10% with them,” he claimed. “Our recidivism rate in Ohio in our prisons is 27%, as opposed to a 50% national average. So we give people a chance and hope, if they want to work their way out.”