Official: addiction epidemic filling Ohio prisons

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio prisons director says the state's painkiller abuse epidemic is thwarting efforts to reduce the inmate population through changes to sentencing laws.

Gary Mohr, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction director, says judges reach a point after a defendant relapses several times that probation has to be revoked.

Mohr says there is hope for optimism because local prison alternatives such as secure halfway houses in the state's big cities are working.

Mohr told the Senate Finance Committee in budget testimony Tuesday the need for such prison alternatives is strongest in rural areas.

The state's already crowded prison system is projected to climb to more than 51,000 inmates by the end of June, well above predictions. A 2011 sentencing law was designed to reduce the number of prisoners.

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