Lucas County, OH

Change in Jail Population 41%

Action Areas Courts Diversion Pretrial Services Racial Disparities

Last Updated

Background

As of 2014, more than half of the people released from Lucas County’s jail have behavioral health needs. People charged with low-level offenses represent 25% of people in jail. Nearly a third of Lucas County’s jail population are being held because of technical violations of probation (snapshot, 2015).

Overall, Black people are vastly overrepresented in the jail—making up 19% of the general county population but serving 58% of custodial arrests over the last five years (2010 – 2014). Black people also make up 57% of people held in jail for the three most common misdemeanor charges.

Many people waiting in Lucas County jails for long stays are affected both by the available pretrial release options and the speed of case processing.

Strategies

Lucas County has advanced a number of strategies to rethink and redesign its criminal justice system so that it is more fair, just, and equitable for all.

01

TRAININGS FOR SYSTEM ACTORS

Lucas County implemented increased training for criminal justice system actors focused on procedural justice, implicit bias, crisis intervention, and de-escalation.

02

ROUTINE POPULATION REVIEW

The county collaborates to effectively manage the jail population. Specifically, a Population Review Team consisting of representatives across the criminal justice system meets weekly to review the jail population to identify people whose cases can be resolved or who can be released from jail without risk to the community.

03

EXPEDITED CASE PROCESSING

The county expedites case processing through the work of the Population Review Team and increased use of technology, which has led to faster case dispositions and jail releases. The county has also created a case processing taskforce to help identify more opportunities for improvement.

04

DIVERSION TO SERVICES

The Toledo Municipal Court diversion program, built with assistance from the Center for Court Innovation, targets people who have mental health or substance use issues and provides them with an alternative to jail. The program also connects participants to voluntary, community-based services.

05

REDUCING RACIAL DISPARITIES

The county formed a Community Engagement Workgroup focused on engaging local community members and anchor institutions in targeted neighborhoods to provide insight and guidance on criminal justice reform strategies, including ways to advance racial equity. The Workgroup is also helping to guide microgrant investments in community-driven projects.

06

COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS

Chief Probation Officers from the county’s five probation departments meet regularly to share evidence-informed practices and coordinate trainings. The departments also began sharing urinalysis results in 2017. In late 2020, Reentry on the First Day was launched, with a goal of reducing the length of stay of people sentenced to jail and advocating for early releases.

07

OPPORTUNITY PROJECT

Social workers embedded in the public defender's office interview clients at their first court appearance in order to connect or re-connect them with specific social services upon release.

Results

As a result of the strategies above, Lucas County has made progress towards its goal of rethinking and redesigning its criminal justice system—effectively reducing the jail population, while continuing to maintain public safety.

Quartery ADP for Lucas County (2016-2021)

41.2% from baseline

More Results

The county has learned that communication and collaboration are key to any reform strategy. System actors, including judges, law enforcement, public defenders, community members, and many others, have come together to work on making the local justice system fairer and more equitable.

As a result of the Community Engagement Workgroup’s work, a series of community listening conversations in late 2020 created a space for community members to share valued input on proposed criminal justice reform strategies. Within the system, court and law enforcement are participating in procedural justice trainings to learn ways to improve relationships with the public through increased transparency and understanding of legal processes. Over 600 employees have been trained so far.

From 2016 – 2020, the Population Review Team has reviewed and recommended release in 669 cases, and as a result, saved people an overall 4,325 days spent in jail.

The Toledo Municipal Court diversion program was able to effectively support people who often cycle in and out of the jail with alternatives to incarceration. Since 2018, 2,044 people have been referred to the program and 1,053 of them have completed the program. The program is being evaluated by the Harvard Access to Justice Lab.

Remaining Challenges

Lucas County is focused on addressing its remaining challenges in its local justice system.

Lucas County has more work to do in further reducing its jail population and racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. An analysis of racial and ethnic disparities will be completed to inform further strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. Additionally, Lucas County is focusing on expanding its continuum of services for individuals with behavioral health needs involved in the criminal justice system.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on every aspect of the county’s local justice system and continues to uniquely affect those incarcerated in local jails. The foundation of collaborative, data-driven strategies, including the necessary structures and collaboration from local stakeholders that are in place to support these strategies, has set the county up well to respond to the pandemic swiftly and effectively.

Lead Agency

Lucas County Board of Commissioners

Contact Information

Holly Matthews
holly.matthews@noris.org

Partners

Lucas County Board of Commissioners, Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Lucas County Sheriff's Office, Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office, Toledo Municipal Court, Toledo Police Department, Correctional Treatment Facility, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Toledo Legal Aid Society, Lucas County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board

Follow @CJCCToledo

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