Axios Columbus

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Yo, Monday.

ğŸ˜Ž Today's weather: Sunny, high of 78!

ğŸŽµ Sounds like: "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly.

😬 Situational awareness: It's Tax Day.

Today's newsletter is 954 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: 📈 Prison population climbing again

Data: Bureau of Justice Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Ohio's prison population has begun creeping back up to pre-pandemic levels.

The big picture: Incarceration rates across the country plummeted during the early pandemic era as courts slowed down and prisons paused transfers.

  • The latest data from the Department of Justice suggests that the dip may be short lived.

Why it matters: Critics have long complained about Ohio's overcrowded state prison system, which the ACLU says was built to house 37,000 people but until the pandemic consistently held closer to 50,000.

What they're saying: "Obviously the spigot got turned back on when the court system reopened again," Gary Daniels, the chief lobbyist at the ACLU of Ohio, tells Axios.

By the numbers: 45,313 people were in state or federal prisons in Ohio in 2022, per the DOJ's data. That's an 11% drop compared to 2012.

  • Between 2021 and 2022, the trend began reversing, with the state and federal prison population rising a little more than half a percentage point, per the DOJ.

Zoom out: Ohio is not alone. The U.S. prison population rose 2.1% between 2021 and 2022, marking "the first increase in the combined state and federal prison population in almost a decade," a recent DOJ report found.

Flashback: During the pandemic, some nonviolent offenders were released or moved to home confinement in an effort to curb viral spread in prisons, which affected not just prisoners, but also prison staffers and surrounding communities.

Friction point: "Despite rhetoric to the contrary, there's a lot of research that shows those kinds of health releases did not have any real negative impact on public safety," David Muhammad, executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an advocacy group, told NPR.

  • "It is disappointing that we're seeing this increase in populations around the country because we have proven that we can have reductions and be safe."

Zoom in: In Ohio, the most common charge for people entering a state prison is drug possession, accounting for 15.5% of all active sentences, per a report by the ACLU of Ohio.

What we're watching

Change in prison populations, 2021 to 2022
Explore the interactive map. Data: Bureau of Justice Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

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Illustration: Andrew Caress/Axios

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2. 🏝️ Private island up for sale

Map: Sara Wise/Axios

If you've got millions of dollars and always wanted your own private island, here's your chance.

Driving the news: Journal Island on Buckeye Lake is listed for $5.75 million, the first time it has ever been on the market.

State of play: One of 21 islands on the lake, it has been owned by the Wolfe family since the early 1900s.

  • The powerful clan once owned the Columbus Dispatch, helped found influential organizations like Columbus Partnership and has supported institutions such as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Scioto Mile and Franklin Park Conservatory.

What you'd get: Over 11 acres of island space, for starters, with gorgeous landscaping and walking trails.

  • There's a main home with six bedrooms and a guest house with four more, plus a pair of boat houses and a dedicated theater building.

The intrigue: The island made news headlines in 1919 when a hydroplane making its first flight crashed into nearby waters. The pilot was rescued from the wreckage.

  • Five years later, the island was raided by state prohibition officers who found "corn hootch" in a cottage kitchen.
  • A cook claimed he used the liquor to treat rheumatism and a snake bite and initially pleaded not guilty, but later changed his plea and paid a $100 fine.

See photos of the island

3. 🏌️ Buckeye masters the Masters

Neal Shipley plays a bunker shot at the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

OSU golfer Neal Shipley won the Augusta National Silver Cup, awarded to the lowest amateur score at the prestigious Masters tournament.

😮 Stunning stat: The grad student, who already has a masters degree in data analytics, shot a better round than his Sunday playing partner, Tiger Woods.

What they're saying: In a press conference, Shipley called the experience a "dream week."

  • When a reporter asked why crowds gravitated toward him, Shipley replied: "Normal lookin' dude with long hair, I don't really look like most golfers. I think I just have a great attitude on the golf course.
  • "I kinda show my emotion and I think that's kinda why people like me."
Neal Shipley and Tiger Woods shake hands on the golf course.
The playing partners were chatty during their Sunday round, Shipley said, talking about golf and Woods' family. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

4. 🍕 Columbites: Proper pizza at Paulie Gee's

The Cheese Square. Photo: Lindsey Erdody/Axios

What does Columbus have in common with Chicago and Brooklyn?

  • Pizza, apparently.

The big picture: Paulie Gee's, a small chain that started in Brooklyn, also has wood-fired pizza shops in Chicago, Baltimore and Columbus, plus "slice shops" in Chicago and Philadelphia.

What to try: Any of the Detroit-style options, but arrive early. Our waiter mentioned it's not uncommon for them to run out of that dough on busy nights.

  • The wood-fired options we tried — the Donna ($20) and the In Ricotta Da Vegan ($18) — were solid, but couldn't compete with the Detroit-style.

Best bites: The Cheese Square, featuring a cheddar edge, mozzarella, Italian tomatoes, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and hot honey ($24). The dough was thick, fluffy and perfectly crispy.

  • Plus, the sauce had great flavor and there was the perfect amount of shaved parmesan cheese on top.
  • We got the hot honey on the side, but it was also a hit.

If you go: Paulie Gee's Short North, 1195 N. High St., is open 5-10pm Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10pm Friday-Saturday and 4-9pm Sunday.

A pizza pro tip

5. 📣 News from the 'burbs

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We're taking another jaunt around Central Ohio to see what's going on in the suburbs:

🚲 Bike With Ike: Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage is leading a group bike through town Saturday.

ğŸ˜Ž Return those glasses: All 23 Columbus Metropolitan Library branches are accepting recycled eclipse glasses through April 19.

  • The glasses are being sent to foreign schools to use for future eclipses.

ğŸ”Ž New Albany 101: The city is offering behind-the-scenes tours of the Public Service complex on April 23, part of an ongoing series to make local government more accessible.

This newsletter was edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Kate Sommers-Dawes and Anjelica Tan.

Our picks:

🤓 Tyler does his taxes just like Ned Flanders.

👶 Alissa is on maternity leave.