Ohio’s 80% Court Release Opportunity

What is 80% Court Release?

Note:  The information below is from the ODRC website and reprinted here unedited.

In the summer of 2011, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 86 (HB 86) which resulted in changes to the law including a new opportunity for inmates to achieve early release under the 80% Court Release process. Under HB 86, all qualifying Ohio inmates are afforded the opportunity to be considered for Court Release at 80% of prison sentence even if he or she hasn’t petitioned the court for early release on their own.  However, this form of early release not only includes an eligibility component but also a suitability component.

Because inmates recommended for the 80% Court Release have their prison experience thoroughly investigated and reported, an inmate who qualifies for this process may now be rewarded with early release for a compliant attitude and making efforts toward rehabilitation. Inmates passing the entire 80% screening process are referred back to the sentencing court with a recommendation from the ODRC Director that the court strongly consider an 80% Court Release. With the combination of the Director’s approval and a comprehensive report on the inmate’s progress, it is the ODRC’s hope that the courts may feel more confident in granting an 80% Court Release.

The 80% Court Release process provides accountability. The court maintains oversight with regard to the offender’s re-entry and retains the ability to respond to both positive and negative behaviors while on supervision. Offenders can be placed on supervision for a period of 1-5 years. If the court grants the 80% Court Release and the offender follows all of its conditions, the inmate can be released from supervision without having to complete the remainder of his or her prison sentence.

How Does It Work?

80% Court Release is voluntary and requires cooperation on the part of the inmate before and after release. The Director of ODRC can recommend that the Court strongly consider the release of an inmate who has served 80% of their sentence and has been found to be both eligible and suitable for this type of release.  If eligibility requirements are met, Unit Management staff in the prison will approach the inmate no sooner than 90 days prior to their 80% Court Release eligibility date to determine whether or not they wish to participate in this process. This process involves several levels of review focused on an inmate’s suitability.

The inmate must be eligible. The following eligibility requirements must be met:

  • Must have 1 year or more to serve upon arrival at reception on a definite sentence
  • Must have no warrants, detainers, or offender notifies
  • Cannot be incarcerated for a new felony committed while on Parole or PRC
  • Must be at a security level 1 or 2
  • Should not have been found guilty of certain Rule Infractions or spent time in Local Control over a specified period of time.
  • Must not have been returned from Transitional Control status with new charges; or
  • Must not have been returned as a Judicial Release violator with less than 120 days remaining to be served

Additionally, there are certain crimes that disqualify an inmate from this type of early release.

The inmate must be suitable. Suitability is first reviewed by a 3 person panel at the institution, followed by the Justice Reinvestment Officer, the Director’s Office, and finally the sentencing Judge/Court. The review includes:

  • Disciplinary history
  • Programming, including that related to all areas of assessed need
  • Participation in pro-social/meaningful activities, community service and job history
  • Prior criminal record, prior institutional and supervision adjustment
  • Attitude
  • Potential Release plans

The offender must be supervised upon release. If granted an 80% Court Release by the sentencing Court, the offender will be supervised by that court’s Probation Department for up to 5 years as determined by the court. The court can respond to violation behavior by returning the offender to prison or address violations in other ways. Successful offenders will complete supervision and be free to resume their lives without ever having completed their prison sentence.


Suzanne Brooks
Assistant to the Managing Director of Court and Community
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Updated: March 18, 2019 — 1:50 pm