Friday, August 20, 2010

Ohio Prison Reform/Criminal History legislation

The Columbus Dispatch, Wednesday morning, had two mentions of bills that have been introduced in the Ohio Senate we found of interest.

Senate Bill 22 (article) (bill analysis)

"'We are at a crisis in the state of Ohio,' Ohio ACLU legal director James Hardiman was quoted as saying, in releasing 'Reform Cannot Wait,' a report examining the cost and impact of prison incarceration and spending from 1991 to the present… It summarized the findings of other reports over nearly two decades and reached the same conclusions: Ohio sends far too many people to prison, spends an inordinate amount of money on adult and youth prisons, and has done little to reduce crime and recidivism."

"Senate Bill 22," the Dispatch said, "would funnel some low-level, nonviolent offenders to community treatment programs and give offenders time off their sentences for successfully participating in education and treatment programs behind bars. It would initially save about $13.7 million in operating costs, but it would help avoid billions in spending if it prevents the state from having to build new prisons because of severe overcrowding. Seitz also said his bill, which has been voted out of a Senate committee, 'will not undercut the holy grail of determinant sentencing,' as prosecutors claim."

Senate Bill 291 (Dispatch's article)

Introduced by Sen. Shirley Smith, Senate Bill 291 would "preclude civil actions against an employer for failures to do a criminal background checks, prohibit an employer from inquiring into the criminal history of a job applicant until the applicant has been selected for an interview, or refuse to hire a job applicant because the applicant committed an offense unrelated to the job.

"modify the list of offenses in the official records of which may not be sealed; require the sealing of the official records of a person who is found not guilty of an offense, who is the defendant named in a dismissed complaint, indictment, or information, or against whom a no bill is entered by a grand jury; and permit certain offenders who are not first offenders to apply for an order sealing their official records."

"Under threat of a $250,000 fine," the Dispatch’s article said, "the bill would require individuals, newspapers and other news media to delete stories from the Internet and their archives about the arrests and convictions of those who win expungement orders, and face a $500,000 fine for knowingly releasing information about a sealed conviction … Damages would double to $1 million if the banned information was available on the Internet."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I fully support Senate Bill 291. My husband is a non-violent offender who made a couple of mistakes when he was age 19. Under current Ohio law, he is unable to get his one and only felony conviction record sealed because he has a couple other misdemeanors on his record. Current law only allows people with one offense to get their record sealed. He is now age 28 and has been unable to find good employment for the last 9 years. We desparately want to start a family and are unable to due to financial difficulty. I have seen him frustrated beyond belief everytime he hears from a company that they cannot hire him due to company policy stating they cannot hire someone with a felony, even though it was 8 years ago. He has been turned down for jobs countless times. I have seen his tears and anger. He is a great man and I just wish he could get his felony conviction sealed so that he could tell prospective employers that he has not had a felony. Many other states allow ex-offenders to get just one conviction record sealed even if they have a few convictions. I wish Ohio law could change.