Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grant of new Ohio Parole Board hearings

220-some Ohio inmates are getting new parole board hearings according to a article yesterday, following a Franklin County court ruling earlier this year.

Cynthia Mausser, chairwoman of the Ohio Parole Board, said the new hearings are being held to apply parole board guidelines the way the judge, in Franklin County, determined they should be in an inmates' class-action lawsuit, according to the article. "The way the (parole) guidelines were applied to some of these inmates previously made it appear as if we were replacing our ranges for the minimum sentence imposed by the court, which was deemed impermissible," Mausser said.

The case here in point was Hall v. Hageman, decided last January. That case was resultant of Ankrom v. Hageman in 2005, which examined the parole eligibility of "old law" prisoners given indeterminate sentences prior to changes associated with Senate Bill 2 in 1996. Ankrom applied to "all parole-eligible Ohio prison inmates who pleaded guilty or no contest to lesser or fewer offenses than for which they were indicted." The consideration here was to "parole-eligible prisoners whose convictions were obtained by a trial."

Plaintiffs asserted that the opinions in Layne v. Ohio Adult Parole Authority(2002) as well as Ankrom should've been directive in their case, and that "many (prisoners) were serving lengthy continuances as a result of pre-Layne and Ankrom hearings where they were denied meaningful consideration for parole." In Layne the Ohio Supreme Court had found that "In any parole determination involving indeterminate sentencing, the Adult Parole Authority must assign an inmate the offense category score that corresponds to the offense or offenses of conviction."

Senate Bill 2 in 1996 was a major revision of Ohio felony sentencing law. The Ohio Sentencing Commission foresaw some of the events following Ankrom and issued a memo entitled "Thoughts on Applying SB 2 to 'Old Law' Inmates." That memo "recaps the differences between old & new law, gives executive director David Diroll's thoughts on the parole board's guidelines, reviews Ankrom, and discusses why it is difficult to apply SB 2 retroactively."

Mausser iterated in the above article that the new hearings doesn’t mean circumstances that led to a parole being denied have changed.

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