Introduction


The Committee was created by statute effective November 9, 1977. The creation of the Committee reflects the wisdom of its author, the late Representative C.J. McLin Jr., who saw the need for a permanent legislative oversight committee, in times of both crisis and calm, not just to respond and react to problems, but to be proactive and preventative.

On July 1, 2001, a significant historical event occurred when the Committee received no continuation funding for the biennium, resulting in the closure of the CIIC staff office. In spite of the lack of funds in the biennium, the Committee's statutory duties remained part of permanent law in the Ohio Revised Code. However, without the aid of CIIC staff, fulfilling the Committee's duties regarding inspections, evaluations and reports proved to be impossible. Of equal historical significance for the CIIC was the subsequent restoration of funds effective July 1, 2003, enabling the CIIC office to eventually reopen. It was an opportunity for a new beginning. Another significant, historical event occurred on April 29, 2005, when the Committee was granted additional statutory authority to inspect juvenile correctional facilities.

Acknowledgement of the CIIC as the subject of a case study at the University of Texas at Austin's Conference on Effective Prison Oversight in April 2006 is also regarded as a significant event in the Committee's history. Perhaps more importantly, it is a significant event in corrections history that professionals are beginning to promote the creation and expansion of prison oversight for the myriad of good purposes served by such an entity.

Great satisfaction comes from fulfilling a good purpose, from making a difference in a massive, complex system, and in serving as the listening ear of the Legislature.

The level of mutual understanding, respect and professional cooperation between the Committee and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) exceeds any in our history. Credit is due in whole or in large part to the positive attitude and enlightened perspective of persons in leadership positions within the Department who have demonstrated an appreciation for the Committee’s existence. They have demonstrated that they value our communication on reported problems, and sought our understanding and support for proposed changes affecting the prisons. The same can be said regarding the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) whose facilities we now also inspect.

Communication between the Committee staff and members, and between the Committee and the DRC and DYS is better than ever. History has shown that the relationship and responsiveness of the Departments ultimately impact our effectiveness and usefulness. A direct line of access exists between the CIIC staff and the DRC and DYS liaisons and their institutions. Monthly CIIC meetings began for the first time in 2003, further serving communication purposes, while offering a forum accessible to the public. CIIC staff and key DRC staff meet quarterly for meaningful discussion of current issues. Prisons and juvenile correctional institutions welcome our presence. Meaningful CIIC reports on inspections and issues of importance have been submitted. In at least one instance, a Warden has used the report on his facility as a blueprint for change. This is indeed a proud moment in our history.