The Truth About Sentencing in Ohio

You read stories in the paper all the time about criminals being sentenced to prison for various stretches of time. Does that really mean they are actually going to be in jail for that length of time?

Actually in Ohio if you read about someone being sentenced to prison for a five year period, it really does mean that person will be inside those walls for five years. There are a few exceptions, of course; but in general, five years means five years.

For crimes that have been perpetrated since July 1996, a judge hands down the term a prisoner serves; this is also known as “truth in sentencing.” One exception is judicial release. This is actually the most common exception and may be used fairly frequently if the circumstances of the case merit it.

A judicial release lets a judge send an offender to jail as punishment. After a sufficient length of time has passed, the judge orders the prisoner’s release, but only with community controls imposed and monitored by the court. This is quite the interesting process and it requires feedback from the victims and others. Please understand that it is not a common process and is rarely used — most inmates serve their full sentence.

As always, when dealing with legal issues, there are exceptions to the exceptions and in the instance of judicial releases, the criteria for granting a release will vary on a case-by-case basis. If you happen to be in a situation where you think you may be eligible for this program, speak to a competent attorney.

Are you aware that in Ohio there is no longer the capability for the prison system to reduce a prisoner’s time? The General Assembly wiped out the prison system’s ability to let offenders out early, abolished parole releases for most crimes, and eliminated giving time-off for good behavior. This is the crux of truthful sentencing.

Truthful sentencing meant a pivotal shift in the balance of the prevailing system by taking it away from ‘back room administrators’ and giving it back to judges, who hand out a true sentence in court. This may seem confusing since there are still instances of prisoners being paroled.

Parole does happen for several groups of prisoners. The first group is lifers, those in for serious crimes. Life terms generally grant a chance at parole after 15 years or so. This group of cases is not affected by the changes made to the system in 1996.

The second group where the rules don’t apply, are sex offenders serving an indefinite period. These prisoners are subject to Parole Board review by law. The final group of inmates still able to apply for parole is those who committed an offense prior to 1996, when the changes came in with truth in sentencing.

Never fear though, this doesn’t mean a whole slew of people are being paroled out onto the streets at any given time. The truth of the matter is that more than 90 percent of Ohio’s prison population is not eligible for parole.

Jeremiah Denslow is a Dayton Divorce Lawyer in Dayton Ohio with Denslow Law Firm. The firm specializes in family law. Jeremiah also practices Dayton criminal defense. To learn more, visit http://www.denslowlaw.com.

Jeremiah Denslow is a Dayton Divorce Lawyer in Dayton Ohio with Denslow Law Firm. The firm specializes in family law. Jeremiah also practices Dayton criminal defense. To learn more, visit Denslowlaw.com.

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