Ohio House committee debates Reagan Tokes Act

Politics

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The House Criminal Justice Committee heard from several witnesses Tuesday with concerns about the Reagan Tokes Act.

The bill arises from the circumstances around the murder of Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes last February.

Brian Golsby, who stands accused of Tokes’ murder, had been released from prison a few months earlier despite a lengthy record of bad behavior while behind bars.

The bill would create indefinite prison terms for some violent felons, rewarding good behavior with an earlier release date and extending prison time for bad behavior.

Niki Clum, legislative liaison for the Office of the Ohio Public Defender said the sentencing formula in the Reagan Tokes Act is not in sync with recent recommendations from the state’s Criminal Justice Recodification Committee. “It creates sentencing structure that creates longer maximums than the Recodification Committee recommended and it doesn’t have a lot of their due process protections in terms of if a sentence is extended,” Clum said. “Our concern is that it doesn’t keep that balance of allowing people who are being rehabilitated to be productive members of society while keeping dangerous inmates still incarcerated.”

Lou Tobin of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney’s Association says prosecutors are opposed to provisions for early release in the Tokes Act but are generally in favor of indefinite sentencing. “We thing it will keep dangerous offenders off the street for a longer period of time and we think that’s a good thing,” Tobin said. “So we’re ready to work with the bill’s sponsors and the legislature to get rid of the good time provision and hopefully see this thing move.”

Golsby was wearing a GPS device but had no real time boundaries.

The Reagan Tokes Act would require exclusionary and inclusionary boundaries and would require the state to maintain a database of the offenders wearing the GPS devices for law enforcement.

Gary Daniels of the ACLU cautioned the committee to carefully study the cost of implementing the proposed changes. “Without proper funding estimates for adequate GPS devices, individuals may unnecessarily spend more time in prison when they could have been paroled,” Daniels said. “If these reforms are to benefit Ohio, they must be adequately funded.”

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