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Group Suggests Reducing Parole Officers' Caseloads, Longer Monitoring For High-Risk Former Inmates

Gov. Mike DeWine (center) speaks alongside members of the review group, including former prisons director Reginald Wilkinson (left) and current ODRC director Annette Chambers-Smith.
Twitter: @govmikedewine
Gov. Mike DeWine (center) speaks alongside members of the review group, including former prisons director Reginald Wilkinson (left) and current ODRC director Annette Chambers-Smith.

A review of how former inmates are monitored after being released from Ohio’s prisons has resulted in 11 recommendations on better policies for post-release control. That review was ordered after two 6 year olds were killed in Dayton last year in a chase involving a police cruiser allegedly stolen by a man who’d been released from prison just 16 days before.

“It is the commitment of this administration and of the department that this will become the Bible," said Gov. Mike DeWine, as he described the report suggesting changes at the Adult Parole Authority.

The recommendations include:

  • Reducing parole officers’ caseloads to 50:1 for general caseloads and 40:1 for specialized caseloads. The report said the current average caseload size is 76:1.
  • Working with the Ohio Department of Public Safety to respond to GPS-monitoring violations at night and on the weekends.
  • Clearly defining areas where offenders can and can't go - known as "inclusion" and "exclusion" zones. This is especially important when dealing with homeless offenders.
  • Establishing longer monitoring periods for highest-risk offenders and ensuring they're supervised by the most experienced parole officers.
  • Expanding specialized caseloads to assign specific offenders, such as sex offenders and those suffering from mental illness, with experienced parole officers.
  • Developing a process of assigning cases to balance offenders' risk levels with the numbers of cases assigned to each parole officer.

But DeWine said it's just a start.

“To continue this plan and to continue adding parole officers, frankly, we’re going to have to have more money," DeWine said.

There are 34,000 people being supervised by fewer than 500 parole officers.

“Wrapping my mind around doing the very best we can with people who are free to go wherever they want to – it’s not an easy task, but it’s one that we will put our shoulders to and do," said Annette Chambers-Smith, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. 

Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll be asking for more money in his next budget to implement the recommendations.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.