COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH)- Today families who have lost loved ones to violent crimes stood at the Ohio Statehouse to protest Ohio’s new law on juvenile offenders.
Over the past decade, the Supreme Court has ruled several times on the issue of a life sentence without parole for juveniles. This April, Ohio joined dozens of other states in banning the sentence in most cases with senate bill 256.
Former State Senator Peggy Lehner, (R) was a sponsor of 256 and said this at a hearing for the bill, “We are seeing a trend of moving away from the harshest sentences for youth because they do have a unique capacity for effective rehabilitation.”
The bill has exceptions, in many cases, allows juveniles a parole hearing after serving 18 years, or after 25-30 years if serving time for a homicide.
“I would like to stress that eliminating juvenile life without parole does not in any way guarantee the offenders would be released, this legislation would only provide juveniles the opportunity for parole,” said Lehner at the same hearing.
Margaret Douglas was 98-years-old when she was murdered in April of 2018. Her family was at the Statehouse and said the new law doesn’t consider people like Gavon Ramsay. Ramsay was 17 years old when he was accused and convicted of murder and abusing Douglas’ corpse.
“I’m sure she put up a fight because that was her nature,” said Cindy Leasure, Margaret Douglas’ niece.
At the Statehouse, they called on lawmakers to amend the bill and expand the exceptions. As the law stands, Ramsay could have a parole hearing in a little more than 20 years and then every five years after. Douglas’ family said even if he’s not let out, the hearings will be painful.
“Every time he would come up for parole, it’s the same thing over and over and over and I can assure you those thoughts of that night and what happened and videos we saw, they don’t leave your mind,” said Leasure.