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Crime victims, advocates push Ohio lawmakers to make changes to criminal justice system

Rukiye Abdul-Mutakalim holds a picture of her son Suliman, who died when he was shot by three men in Cincinnati in 2015. They stole the money he'd just taken out of the ATM to buy dinner at a nearby restaurant for himself and his wife, and stole the food as well.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Rukiye Abdul-Mutakalim holds a picture of her son Suliman, who died when he was shot by three men in Cincinnati in 2015. They stole the money he'd just taken out of the ATM to buy dinner at a nearby restaurant for himself and his wife, and stole the food as well.

As Ohio state lawmakers discuss an 1,800 page criminal justice bill, advocates are pushing for things they say legislators can do to help both those who are victims of crime and their families as well as the people convicted of committing crimes.

Rukiye Abdul-Mutakalim’s son Suliman was shot in 2015 in Cincinnati. The 39 year old Navy veteran, known to many as "Sam", was shot after he left an ATM and then bought dinner to bring home to his wife. He was shot and left to die by a group of three men who stole his money and the food he was carrying.

One of the killers was 14 year old Javon Coulter; another was 17 year old Valentino Pettis. Police said a third man who was believed to be in his 20s was involved, but wasn't charged. Coulter was sentenced to 20 years. Pettis received a 14-year sentence.

Abdul-Mutakalim has against life sentences for young offenders, and said her son's young killers and others like them need lawmakers’ help.

“Change, improve our laws. You can do this. With recovery centers and services in our communities, all our communities. And my son is saying, please," Abdul-Mutakalim said.

Advocates are calling for funding for those trauma recovery centers as well as extended unpaid leave and housing protection for victims.

For offenders, the group wants shorter sentences for completing certain programs. and They’re also pushing for transition programs for people leaving prison.

That last item is in the criminal justice bill, Senate Bill 288, which would change the rules on denying release to those transition programs. It also would increase early release programs and would expand the ability to expunge records.

Copyright 2022 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.