Mortality Data and Related Policies, 2000-2020

COVID Prison Project filed this request with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction of Ohio.


From: COVID Prison Project

JoEllen Smith
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Ohio Open Records Law Office
770 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43222

To JoEllen Smith:

Under the Ohio Open Records Law, §149.43 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of the following public records:

– Those which include time and date of all instances of death occurring in the offender population between January 2000 and December 2020.

– Those which indicate the total number of individuals in Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) custody who died by any cause, separated monthly, from January 2000 to December 2020.

– Monthly population records that include the total number of deaths occurring among people in the custody of the ODRC between January 2000 and December 2020.

– Final reports of death for all individuals in ODRC custody who died between January 2000 and December 2020.

Additionally, I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of any and all ODRC policies, regulations, and procedures, pertaining to...

– Investigations of in-custody deaths.

– Requirements for the performance of an autopsy or post-mortem medical examination of individuals who die while in ODRC custody.

– The reporting of in-custody deaths to other governmental agencies.

– Next-of-kin notification in the event of in-custody deaths.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. However, we respectfully request a waiver of these fees as we are affiliated with an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, and this request is made for a scholarly or scientific purpose and not for a commercial use.

I would request a prompt response to this request. If you expect a significant delay in responding to or in fulfilling this request, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records. If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated assistance in this matter.


Forrest Behne
Policy Director, COVID Prison Project
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office: (919) 391-7962
340 MacNider Hall | Campus Box 7240
333 South Columbia Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7240

From: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Confirming receipt of this email.
Thank you.

From: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Thank you for your email.

Your request is currently being reviewed by the Bureau of Research.

Thank you.
JoEllen Smith

From: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

RE: COVID Related Death Data

The records you request are not available for public release. Responsive records include offender records, medical records, and CQI records, all of which are protected by Ohio law (see R.C. 149.43(A)(1)(a), 5120.21(F), and 5120.211). Since April 2020, DRC has aggregated and released certain COVID-19 statistics-those public information sheets are attached.

Thank you.

JoEllen Smith


Please note that an e-mail message, or a portion thereof, may be releasable as a public record in accordance with Chapter 149 of the Ohio Revised Code.