Ohio - State of the Data Report

Recent Legislation

SB 4: Expand Expungement and Intervention


Senate Bill 4 was related to criminal justice reform and expungement laws for victims of human trafficking. Pursuant to this bill, human trafficking victims previously convicted of specified prostitution-related offenses (i.e., soliciting, loitering to engage in solicitation, etc.) were allowed to apply for expungement of related conviction records. Additionally, this bill permitted intervention in lieu of convictions for victims charged with a criminal offense, wherefore, the court would conduct a hearing to determine eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction and recommend an appropriate intervention plan.

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Relevant criminal justice data laws

The Ohio Public Records Act, also known as the Sunshine Laws, governs public access to state government records. There are, however, several exceptions to the laws, and notably, the laws only govern access to corrections records. Access to criminal history information and court records are both governed by separate statutes and policies.

Criminal History Information

Criminal history information isn’t generally public record. Because criminal history information isn’t considered public record, there are no provisions allowing for bulk dissemination of these record

Ohio Revised Code § 109.51 et seq.

The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI), a unit within the state’s Attorney General office, is statutorily mandated to collect and maintain criminal history information. (Oh. Rev. Code § 109.51, 109.57(A)) BCI collects and maintains records on persons “convicted of committing within this state a felony, any crime constituting a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony on subsequent offenses, or any misdemeanor described in division (A)(1)(a), (A)(5)(a), or (A)(7)(a) of section 109.572 of the Revised Code, of all children under eighteen years of age who have been adjudicated delinquent children for committing within this state an act that would be a felony or an offense of violence if committed by an adult or who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to committing within this state a felony or an offense of violence, and of all well-known and habitual criminal.” (Oh. Rev. Code § 109.57(A))

The statutes and administrative policies that govern the collection and maintenance of criminal history records are explicit in stating that these records are not considered public. In addition to “photographs, pictures, descriptions, fingerprints, measurements, and other information that may be pertinent of all persons”, the bureau is also required to collect and maintain the following information:

  • “(a) The incident tracking number contained on the standard forms furnished by the superintendent…;

  • (b) The style and number of the case;

  • (c) The date of arrest, offense, summons, or arraignment;

  • (d) The date that the person was convicted of or pleaded guilty to the offense, adjudicated a delinquent child for committing the act that would be a felony or an offense of violence if committed by an adult, found not guilty of the offense, or found not to be a delinquent child for committing an act that would be a felony or an offense of violence if committed by an adult, the date of an entry dismissing the charge, an entry declaring a mistrial of the offense in which the person is discharged, an entry finding that the person or child is not competent to stand trial, or an entry of a nolle prosequi, or the date of any other determination that constitutes final resolution of the case;

  • (e) A statement of the original charge with the section of the Revised Code that was alleged to be violated;

  • (f) If the person or child was convicted, pleaded guilty, or was adjudicated a delinquent child, the sentence or terms of probation imposed or any other disposition of the offender or the delinquent child.” (Oh. Rev. Code § 109.57(A)(2)(a)-(f))

Because these records are not considered public or publicly accessible, there is no presumption of openness. Additionally, neither statute nor administrative policy offer any special provisions for research access.

Court Records

Court records are public records. Requests for bulk distribution of court records must be fulfilled only when they do not require a new compilation be made.

Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 34; 35; 37; 37.06; 44; 45; 46

Rule 45, Subsection A of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio states: “Court records are presumed open to public access.” (Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 45(A)) “Court record” means both a case document and an administrative document, regardless of physical form or characteristic, manner of creation, or method of storage.” (Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 44(B))

Additionally, Rule 45 requires that personal identifiers must be omitted from case documents before they are filed with the clerk or submitted to the court. (Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 45(D)) In such instances, the omitted information must be provided to the court in a separate document, and is presumably excluded from public access. Moreover, Rule 45 also allows for any party in a judicial proceeding to petition the court to have information related to them redacted from case files, and subsequently precluded from further disclosure; however, before making a determination on the petition, the court must consider and ensure that the benefits of restricting public access of that information outweighs the presumption of public access. If the court determines the restriction of public access to that information is appropriate, they must do so using the least restrictive means available. (Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 45(E))

Rule 35 of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio requires the state’s supreme court operate and maintain a centralized reporting or case management system. Its primary function is to assist the judiciary with recording and analyzing the performance of the state’s many courts and to produce annual statistical reports on their performance. While not necessarily a repository for public court records – each court of the state is responsible for retaining their own records and case files – the Ohio courts network operated by the state’s Supreme Court is intended to act as a centralized warehouse that facilitates the exchange of data and information by and between the courts of the state and their judicial partners. (Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 34(A)(2))

Finally, any statistical reports that are ultimately created from information contained in the repository, which itself is not explicitly open to public inspection, shall be made available to the public. (Ohio Superintendence Ct. R. 37.06) The state does not have a publicly accessible online portal for accessing court records.

Corrections Records

Corrections records are public records. There are no provisions for bulk dissemination of records.

The Ohio Public Records Act

The Ohio Public Records Laws, also known as the Sunshine Laws, establishes rules around government bodies that are required to collect and maintain records and what records are exempt from public disclosure. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction adheres to the Sunshine Laws in its record collection, retention, and dissemination operations.

Department policy, Public Records, establishes a list of records that are exempt from public disclosure in accordance with Ohio Revised Code 149.43. Certain records that are exempt include: parole and probation, medical, educational, recovery services, offender records, and limited inmate/supervision records. The Public Records policy also requires that each facility have a record maintenance process that is aligned to their administrative needs and also serves to provide the public record access when requested. When making a record request, the requestor must describe in detail the information they are looking for. A person can make a request by mail, email, or fax, and there is no expectation that the requestor identify themselves nor explain the purpose of the request.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction does control an incarcerated persons record repository. The repository is referred to as the Offender Search. The Offender Search is subject to Ohio Revised Code 5120.66 | Internet database of inmate offense, sentence, and release information; "Laura's Law". The statute allows the department to publish corrections records onto the internet database. Some of the information that may be contained in those records includes, but is not limited to: the incarcerated person’s name; the offense the person was convicted of; the gender of the victim of the offense; the range of the possible imprisonment terms for the offense; the actual prison terms; and, the date when the individual will be eligible for parole. Members of the public may use the Offender Search.

The Department policy, Research Approval Process, creates rules for the cooperation with third parties who wish to research the department, its staff, and the individuals under supervision. It is the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections position to encourage outside researchers to conduct research that furthers criminal justice knowledge. To conduct research, an individual or entity must submit a proposal to the Human Subjects Research Review Committee for approval. Any research project using incarcerated individuals and department information must adhere to confidentiality standards.

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Model Legislation

In 2017, Florida passed ground-breaking legislation to standardize the way the state collects and shares data. The bill proceeded from recommendations MFJ made to the Florida judiciary about the state of its data. Based on that bill and on our extensive experience with data collection, management, and release, we have developed Model Legislation that can serve as a guide to any state legislature invested in improving data and, by extension, its criminal justice system. While MFJ recommends tailoring this Model Legislation to the existing statutory framework and data infrastructure in each state, at minimum, all states need clear mandates regarding the following:

  • Data collection: all state and local criminal justice agencies should be required to collect a core set of data elements necessary for tracking how people and cases move through the criminal process.
  • Data centralization and standardization: all data should be standardized and housed in a single, centralized data repository
  • Data access: data should be available, with varying levels of anonymization, to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, journalists, and the general public.


Whereas, complete, accurate, and timely criminal justice data are necessary for implementation and assessment of criminal process;

Whereas, data standards ensure data are consistent, reliable, and comparable;

Whereas, government should provide the public full access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals' privacy rights and the desirability of the efficient administration of government.

Therefore, the following should be enacted:



It shall be the duty of the state Department of Justice to collect all data described below from all state and local criminal justice agencies and from any other appropriate source. This includes the following data elements, which shall be collected electronically on a weekly basis from the following persons and agencies:

  1. Each local, county, and state law enforcement agency shall report the following information:
    1. For each arrest or citation/notice to appear summons in criminal cases:
      1. Arrest or citation number.
      2. Originating Agency Identifier
      3. Unique Identifier
      4. Incident date.
      5. Action taken: custodial arrest, non-custodial citation/summons/promise to appear, none, other
      6. Arrest or citation date.
      7. Arrest or citation charge statute number
      8. Arrest or citation charge severity.
      9. Whether charges were referred to the prosecutor and the date, if applicable.
    2. For each individual taken into custody or issued a citation:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth.
      3. Zip code of primary residence.
      4. Race and ethnicity.
      5. Gender.
  2. Each clerk of court or other appropriate office shall collect the following data for each criminal case:
    1. Case number.
    2. Unique identifier as described by Section 2(a)(1)(iii).
    3. Offense date.
    4. County in which the offense was committed.
    5. Arrest date.
    6. Filing date.
    7. Arraignment date or initial appearance.
    8. Attorney assignment date.
    9. Attorney withdrawal date.
    10. Case status.
    11. Disposition date.
    12. For each defendant:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth.
      3. Age at arrest
      4. Zip code of primary residence.
      5. Primary language.
      6. Race and ethnicity.
      7. Gender
      8. Citizenship
      9. Immigration status,
      10. Indigency status.
      11. Any habitual offender, sexual offender, and/or domestic violence designation.
    13. The following information on a formal charge filed against the defendant. Charge information shall include both filing and conviction charges where relevant.
      1. Charge number.
      2. Charge description.
      3. Charge statute.
      4. Charge type.
      5. Charge class severity.
      6. Charge disposition.
      7. The method of disposition (i.e. pretrial diversion, plea negotiation, or trial)
      8. Charge disposition date.
      9. Drug type for charge, if known.
    14. Plea date.
      1. The following information on bail or bond pretrial release:
      2. Pretrial release decision.
      3. Nonmonetary conditions of release
      4. Cash bail or bond amount.
      5. Booking date and reason.
      6. Date defendant is released on bail, bond, or pretrial release.
      7. Bail or bond revocation due to a new offense, a failure to appear, or violation of the terms of bail or bond.
    15. Any court dates and dates of motions and appearances.
    16. Defense attorney type (public defender, private counsel or contract attorney).
    17. The following information related to sentencing:
      1. Sentence date
      2. Charge sentenced to, charge number, charge description, statute, type, and charge class severity.
      3. Sentence type.
      4. Sentence length
      5. Sentence condition.
      6. Any time served credit and length
      7. Court fees amount.
      8. Court fees payment to date.
      9. Fine amount
      10. Fine amount balance or payment to date.
      11. Restitution amount ordered, amount collected, and amount paid to victim.
  3. Each district attorney shall collect the following data, if known:
    1. For each case screened:
      1. Case number
      2. Name
      3. Date of birth
      4. Charge referral date
      5. Charge screening decision date
      6. Charge screening decision (i.e. declined for prosecution/no information filed, filed, pretrial diversion/deferred prosecution)
      7. For each case sent to pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution:
        1. Pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution agreement date
        2. The outcome of a pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution agreement.
      8. For each case filed:
        1. Charge number
        2. Charge description
        3. Charge statute
        4. Charge type
        5. Charge class severity
        6. Date of plea offer and description of the plea offer.
        7. Date of adjudication if taken to trial.
      9. Action that initiated the case referral (i.e. arrest, warrant issued, sworn complaint, citation/summons/promise to appear, other)
    2. For a human victim of a crime of violence:For a human victim of a crime of violence:
      1. Race and ethnicity.
      2. Gender.
      3. Age.
      4. Relationship to defendant
    3. Number of full-time prosecutors
    4. Number of part-time prosecutors
    5. Annual felony caseload
    6. Annual misdemeanor caseload
  4. Each public defender, contract attorney or administrator, or overseer of any court appointment program shall collect the following data
    1. for each criminal case:
      1. Case number
      2. Name
      3. Date of birth
      4. Charge description, type, and severity
      5. Attorney assignment date
      6. Attorney withdrawal date
      7. Reason for withdrawal
      8. Dates for all meetings with client
      9. Method of all meetings with client (i.e. in person, phone call, video conference, other)
      10. Place of all meetings with client (i.e. detention facility, public defender's office, client's home, courthouse, other)
      11. Case outcome, including sentence imposed.
      12. Date of plea offer and description of the plea offer
    2. Number of full-time public defenders, as well as contract attorneys representing indigent defendants
    3. Number of part-time public defenders, as well as contract attorneys representing indigent defendants
    4. Annual felony caseload
    5. Annual misdemeanor caseload.
  5. The administrator of each county detention facility shall collect the following data:
    1. Jail capacity.
    2. Weekly admissions to jail for probation/parole revocation.
    3. Daily and year-end jail population.
    4. Daily and year-end jail pretrial population.
    5. Daily and year-end jail presentence population.
    6. Daily and year-end postsentence population.
    7. Daily and year-end federal and state inmates held in jail population.
    8. Daily cost of a jail bed.
    9. Daily number of correctional officers.
    10. Annual jail budget.
    11. For each inmate:
      1. Booking number
      2. Booking date
      3. Booking reason
      4. Monetary bond amount, if applicable
      5. Name and any known aliases
      6. Date of birth
      7. Release date
      8. Release type (e.g., ROR, released on monetary bond, released after completed sentence, transferred to prison, transferred to jail in another jurisdiction, transferred to ICE or other federal agencies, etc.)
      9. Time served credit length
      10. Any domestic violence, habitual offender, or sexual offender designations.
  6. The probation chief in each county shall collect the following data:
    1. For each probationer or supervisee:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth.
      3. Race and ethnicity.
      4. Sex.
      5. Department assigned case number.
      6. Length of probation sentence imposed
      7. Length of probation sentence served.
      8. Probation release date or projected release date.
      9. Probation revocation due to technical violation or new offense.
    2. Daily cost per probationer.
  7. The Department of Corrections shall collect the following information
    1. For each prisoner:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. DOC number
      3. Year of birth
      4. Race and ethnicity.
      5. Number of children.
      6. Education level.
      7. Admission date
      8. Admission type.
      9. Whether the reason for admission is for a new conviction or parole violation.
        1. If for a parole violation, whether it was for a technical violation, based on a new offense, or other reason.
      10. institution and institution security level.
      11. Any domestic violence, habitual offender, or sexual offender designations.
      12. Committing county.
      13. Offense and statute of underlying criminal act.
      14. Whether the inmate is serving a concurrent or consecutive sentence.
      15. Length of sentence.
      16. Projected discharge date
      17. Time served, in days.
      18. Good conduct time earned.
      19. Any prior incarceration with the state.
      20. Disciplinary violation and action.
      21. Participation in rehabilitative or educational correctional programs.
    2. For each correctional facility:
      1. Budget
      2. Daily prison population.
      3. Daily cost of a prison bed.
      4. Daily number of correctional officers.
    3. The yearly inmate admissions by offense type.
    4. The overall recidivism rate of individuals released from prison.
      1. Recidivism shall be defined in the following manners within a three-year period following release:
        1. Reconviction
        2. Re-incarceration.
        3. Re-arrest.
    5. For each parolee under the Division of Parole:
      1. Full name and known aliases
      2. Year of birth
      3. Race and ethnicity
      4. Sex
      5. DOC number
      6. Length of parole term imposed and length of term served.
      7. Parole completion date or projected completion date.
      8. Parole revocation due to technical violation or new offense
    6. Daily cost per parolee.
    7. For each parolee receiving a parole release hearing
      1. For all individuals granted release from indeterminate life sentences:
        1. Difference between minimum eligible release date and actual release date
        2. Difference between youth offender parole eligible date and actual release date.
        3. Institution from which individuals is being released.
      2. For all individuals denied release from determinate sentences:
        1. Length of denial.


In order to facilitate the availability of comparable and uniform criminal justice data, the department shall:

  1. Create an anonymized unique identifier for each criminal case which identifies the person who is the subject of the criminal case. The unique identifier must be the same for that person in any referral to prosecution or court case and used across local and state entities for all information related to that person. The number must be randomly selected.
  2. Within 2 years, develop Application Programming Interface (API) for submitting data electronically.
  3. Make all data received under Section 2 comparable, machine readable, transferable, and readily usable.
  4. Make the database available to the public, with identifying information removed, without the necessity of a license or charge a fee.
  5. Make the database available to eligible public agencies and research organizations without the necessity of a license or charge a fee.
  6. Create by rule how entities subject to the requirements of Section 2 will submit data electronically.
  7. Create by rule how the data is compiled, processed, structured, used, or shared.

Data repository best practices

MFJ recommends that all states identify a state agency to act as a criminal justice data aggregator and repository for data from local criminal justice agencies across the state. The specific agency serving in this function will vary based on state-specific dynamics and the organizational structure of the state criminal justice system. Below are a set of capabilities that a data aggregator and repository agency should have:

  1. Uses open web standards. Little use of proprietary technology.
  2. Uses security on the transport layer. Website is https (rather than http) even for non-login pages.
  3. Uses modern scaling technologies (Tech that allows you to handle large spikes in traffic).
  4. Has people on staff that are dedicated to web user-interface coding.
  5. Has people on staff that are dedicated to web service ("server-side") coding.
  6. Makes data available in machine-readable, open format files (i.e., you can get full datasets without scraping).
  7. Makes data available and searchable via modern web APIs (access to data directly through programs, not just by humans going to web pages).
  8. Has the capability to aggregate, stitch together and validate the data coming in.
  9. Can handle, for example, duplicate, overlapping or missing data and has processes for the rejection and re-transmission of invalid data.
  10. Uses standard best practices for data protection and redundancy (remote backups, logging, event detection).

Measures for Justice

If you’re interested in MFJ assessing your state’s data or want to know more about how to improve data collection, recording, and sharing, please contact us.