Major Changes to Ohio Criminal Sentencing in 2011?


by Brad Koffel

Today I read the written testimony of S.B. 10's sponsor, Senator Seitz, from February 15, 2011 before the Senate Judiciary Criminal Justice Committee.

S.B. 10 contains numerous provisions designed to reduce overcrowding at Ohio's prisons while easing the strain of incarceration on Ohio's budget. Look who is aligned on the same side of this legislation - the ACLU, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Governor Kasich, and every major newspaper in Ohio. S.B. 10 is an extension of last term's S.B. 22 (also sponsored by Seitz).

Here are key points in this anticipated change in criminal law.

  • Increases the threshold for felony theft from $500 to $1,000.
  • Increases from one to five days the time an inmate can have subtracted from his sentence for each month of completion of education courses, job training, treatment for substance abuse, and other DRC-approved programs. However, this credit is capped at 8% of the total sentence. The exceptions are:
  • No sexually-oriented offenders will be eligible to receive earned credit.
  • Almost all F-1 and F2 offenders are not eligible for earned credit.
  • It appears as though there is no retroactivity to those offenders sentenced before the potential effective date of S.B. 10.

This program is aimed at F-3, F-4, and F-5 offenders. Also, earned credit is supposedly not inconsistent with the determinate sentencing regime laid down by S.B. 2 in 1996.

  • Adds more options to APA in determining penalties for parolees who fail to report to their P.O.'s.
  • Creates new sentencing alternatives for people who fail to pay child support.
  • Equalizes crack and powder cocaine penalties
  • Eliminates drug mandatory sentences for many marijuana and hashish offenders.
  • Permits ILC to be available to second time felony offenders.
  • Permits judges to grant Judicial Release after 85% of prison time has been served to prisoners with sentences longer than 10 years subject to certain exceptions.
  • Allows counties to set up community alternative treatment centers to which they may send any offender sentenced to a term of 30 days or less in the county jail.
  • Subjects all first-time non-violent F-4 and F-5 offenders to mandatory probation and treatment in lieu of prison time unless they violate community control.
  • Creates a "Risk Reduction Sentence" under which newly convicted lower risk prisoners may be released upon completion of 75% of their sentence.