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The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) is Ohio’s state prison system. In addition to being responsible for the confinement of all adults who are incarcerated after being convicted of felonies where the statutory minimum sentence is at least six months, the ODRC is also responsible for handling alternatives like community corrections or probation.
Parole is one alternative to prison time. Probation is another. While they share some basic concepts, they are actually two different types of alternative sentencing. An inmate can receive probation in lieu of incarceration. Parole refers to release after an inmate has served part of his or her sentence. Both parole and probation are supervised, and failure to comply with the conditions of either can result in an inmate being sent back to prison.
The Governor of Ohio appoints the Director of the ODRC. The Director is the person in charge of supervising and controlling the entire department. The current Director is Annette M. Chambers-Smith. The Governor appointed her in January 2019. She transitioned to the position after serving in the private prison services sector with JPay and Securus Technologies, but had previously worked for 21 years with the ODRC and its predecessor the Ohio Department of Correction. During her tenure with the ODRC, Chambers-Smith held a variety of different positions, including records clerk, secretary, Inspector of Institutional Services, Assistant Chief Inspector, Deputy Warden, Warden, and Chief of the Bureau of Medical Services.
4545 Fisher Road, Suite D
Columbus, OH 43228
There are many ways to contact the ODRC, depending on what information you need to locate. If you are unsure which department to contact, you can always contact the main number, which is 614-387-0588.
General Information Phone Number: 614-387-0588.
Family Service Number: 614-752-1161
PREA: [email protected]
Legal Services: 614-752-1765
Victim Services: 888-842-8464
Record Requests: 803-896-8531
The ODRC is the sixth largest prison system in the United States. It was established under House Bill 494 and its responsibilities are outlined in Ohio Revised Code § 5120. In 1993, one of its prisons, the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, was the site of huge riot that resulted in the deaths of nine inmates and one prison guard.
Ohio is a death penalty state. Most of Ohio’s male death row inmates are held at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution or the Ohio State Penitentiary. Female death row inmates are housed at the Ohio Reformatory for women. Inmates with medical conditions may be held at the Franklin Medical Center.
Like many state prison systems, the ODRC has its own school system. In 1884, the warden of the Ohio Penitentiary established the first prison night school in the state. This school developed into a type of primary school teaching inmates basic education including reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and history. The Ohio State Reformatory, which was geared towards juveniles, always had an educational system. The school began to emphasize practical skills and trades so that inmates would be employable after being released.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a national law with the goal of reducing the incident of sexual assaults in prison, increasing sexual assault reporting, and encouraging prisons to develop policies that will protect victims of prison sexual assault. Ohio’s PREA information page is located at https://www.drc.ohio.gov/prea.
Anyone can report a prison sexual assault under PREA. Ohio has an email set up for reporting: [email protected]. For more information about PREA, you can visit the National PREA Resource Center at https://www.prearesourcecenter.org/.
The ODRC attempts to place inmates who pose similar risks together into security levels. Classification helps ensure that all inmates get the appropriate levels of supervision, and leads to greater safety for the public, for the prison staff, and for other incarcerated individuals. It also leads to greater rehabilitation opportunities for lower-risk offenders. With that goal in mind, the ODRC strives to place inmates in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate for that offender.
In addition, the ODRC attempts to keep geographic area in mind when placing inmates in prisons. The goal is to place inmates reasonably close to family in order to facilitate family visits.
However, the ODRC also believes that behavior while incarcerated is important. Ideally, inmates will progress through the security levels down to the lower security levels as they near their release dates. This should provide an incentive for inmates to behave appropriately while in prison, as lower security levels mean that they get additional privileges and more autonomy. Likewise, inmates who engage in bad decision making and choose violent or disruptive behaviors while incarcerated may have their security levels increased.
Some of the factors that the ODRC considers when making its initial security determination include the inmate’s: age, history of violent or disruptive behavior, history of escape, known enemies, gender, sex, medical status, notoriety of offenses, criminal history, mental stability, emotional stability, type of sentencing, release eligibility, education history, programming, STG affiliation, and prior incarceration history.
Level 1- This it she lowest security system. Level 1 inmates are expected to comply with all rules and behave in a pro-social manner. They may be transferred to reintegration units as they approach their release dates.
Level 2- These inmates are considered general population and are housed in facilities surrounded by a double perimeter, with razor ribbon, and alarmed and patrolled fencing. Some of these inmates may be transferred to reintegration units as they approach their release dates.
Level 3- These inmates have the same security as level 2, and are still part of general population, but may include some inmates who are at higher risk of engaging in disruptive prison behavior.
Level 4- This is the primary security level for control units in the system. This is the highest level of security for inmates who are not considered special risk.
ERH- This level is reserved for inmates who pose a serious threat to the institution or to the inmates and staff. These are inmates who are identified as violent, predatory, or disruptive, or who have a history of encouraging or inciting those behaviors in others.
To send mail to an inmate, you have to follow the ODRC’s mail rules. Individual facilities may have their own rules, as well.
All inmate mail and emails, except for legal mail, will be opened and screened for contraband. Mail may be copied or read. The mail will be delivered to the inmate unless the contents violate jail mail rules or pose a threat to security. If mail is withheld, the inmate and the sender will be notified with a Notice of Withholding.
Inmates can send an unlimited amount of mail if they pay for the cost of the mail. Inmates can purchase writing supplies and envelopes through the commissary and envelopes do not count towards an inmate’s package limit. Inmates who cannot pay for their own mail can send 1 letter per month.
Inmates may receive the following items in the mail: letters, up to 5 photographs that are 5x7 or smaller, up to 5 page-size newspaper clippings, up to 5 brochures or pamphlets, up to 5 pages of blank stationary, and greeting cards. No nude photos. No Polaroid photos. No stamps, stickers, or similar items.
Throughout the ODRC, the institutions use Global Tel Link as their inmate telephone system service. To receive phone calls from an inmate, you will get an automated call from GTL, which will ask for your permission to add your number to the inmate’s call list. Once you have answered yes to this call, the inmate will be allowed to make calls to your number. Inmates are only permitted to call people on their approved call lists.
You may contact GTL at 877-650-4249 during their normal business hours.
Inmates may pay for calls three ways. Standard collect calls require the person receiving the call to pay. You may not be able to accept collect calls on a cell phone. Pre-paid collect calls are collect calls to people with a pre-paid account with GTL and receive a 20% discount from regular collect calls. Inmates may also use a debit phone account.
You can deposit money into an inmate’s phone account in three ways: kiosks in the jail lobby, depositing money into the offender’s commissary account, mailing money orders to JPay, calling 888-988-4768 (site ID #86), depositing funds at https://web.connectnetwork.com, using the ConnectNetwork smartphone application, and using third-party retailers. Money orders have no processing fees, but all other methods have a fee.
If you do not want to receive calls from the prisons or from a particular inmate, you can call 877-650-4249 to block calls.
The ODRC allows inmates to send and receive email. They use JPay to provide these services. Inmates do not have direct email access, but are allowed to access messages through a special third-party website.
Inmates in the ODRC can are allowed inmate trust accounts, which can pay for commissary as well as fees the inmate may encounter in prison, like medical copays. Approved visitors are allowed to send funds to inmates. Inmates may spend a maximum of $200 in each transaction and $400 in a month.
Deposits can be sent by mail through JPay. Money orders cannot be more than $200 unless previously approved by the warden and cannot be sent directly to an inmate. Deposits can be made online at the ConnectNetwork website or by phone at 888-988-4768.
The ODRC’s inmate locator can be found at https://appgateway.drc.ohio.gov/OffenderSearch. In addition to searching for inmates by their individual information, you can also search for all inmates who will have a parole hearing within a certain date range. In addition, victims of certain crimes will be automatically notified of certain changes in an inmate’s status.
Visitation policies may differ from one another in the ODRC facilities, so you should review the ODRC visitation policies and the individual visitation information for each facility. All visitors must complete visitor applications and must be approved before visitation, unless the inmates are at the reception center facilities; visitors to inmates at those facilities bring their applications to the first visit.
Each institution establishes its own visiting hours. You may need to make visitation reservations. You can find the visitation hours and the reservation requirements on the webpage for each institution, but should call to verify visitation information before visiting.
The ODRC institutions offer video visitation using JPay kiosks that are installed in housing units. These are usually available to general population inmates throughout the day, 7 days a week. Not all inmates will have access to video visitation.
All institutions have a dress code for visitors, which prohibits: see-through clothing, midriff baring clothing, tube tops, cropped tops, tank tops, muscle shirts, low-cut clothing, clothing that exposes undergarments, shorts, skirts, or dresses above mid-knee, wrap skirts, break-away pants, gang-related clothing, clothing with obscene or offensive images or language, form-fitting/ tight clothing, and clothing with holes or rips. Visitors violating the dress code may not be allowed to visit.
Visitors should not bring bags or purses to visitation, with the exception of diaper bags that may contain: baby diapers, baby wipes, three plastic baby bottles, three plastic containers of baby food, and one pacifier.