September 28, 2012
The Associated Press
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday planned to sign a bill into law that seeks to save the state millions of dollars a year by reducing the number of inmates behind bars. Though the changes could reduce the prison population by thousands of inmates, the early release options are not available for sex offenders, those who commit gun crimes, repeat violent offenders and those who commit violent crimes while in prison.
Some of the law’s changes:
— Raises from $500 to $1,000 the amount of money in theft cases needed to charge someone with a felony.
—Requires the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction within three months to review the cases of all parole-eligible inmates 65 years old or older and requires the Ohio Parole Board to review those cases for possible release.
— Allows the prison system to ask courts to release offenders with prison sentences of one year or more who have served at least 80 percent of their time. This provision does not apply to offenders serving life terms or terms for violent felonies.
—Raises maximum sentences for people convicted of certain serious and violent crimes.
—Lets counties create and run community alternative sentencing centers for offenders convicted of misdemeanors with sentences of 30 days or less.
—Lets judges sentence certain offenders convicted of failure to provide child support to community control, such as halfway houses, instead of prison time.
—Eliminates the distinction between penalties for drug offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine.
—Creates new criminal categories for offenders convicted of possessing or selling smaller amounts of marijuana and hashish and provides potentially shorter prison terms for such convictions.
—Allows judges to order treatment instead of incarceration for certain theft offenses, including when an offender’s mental illness or mental disability contributed to the crime.
—Expands a provision that allows certain prisoners to earn one day of credit for participating in specific prison programs to five days of credit.
—Requires that offenders released early for earning 60 or more days of credit wear a GPS monitor for the first two weeks after release.
—Requires that judges sentence offenders convicted of first-time nonviolent felonies to halfway houses or other local options rather than prison.
— Creates a system for “risk reduction sentencing” under which certain felony offenders may be released after serving a minimum of 80 percent of their time if they complete required treatment or programming.
—Requires the prisons system to notify each victim of a violent felony if the perpetrator escapes from prison.
—Eliminates mandatory prison sentences for certain drug charges if the offender has not been convicted of the offense before.
—Requires statewide training standards for probation officers.
—Gives juvenile court judges more leeway in granting early release to children serving time in Department of Youth Services detention facilities.
—Gives juvenile judges discretion in determining whether certain youth should serve time in adult or youth prisons.