On April 7, Governor DeWine announced his plan going forward to decrease the prison population in light of the Coronavirus. In noting the difficulty of social distancing for both inmates and staff the Governor announced a plan to release two classes of inmates. The first class is for individuals whose sentence is set to expire within the next 90 days. With respect to these individuals, the Governor has screened out (meaning deemed ineligible) individuals convicted of domestic violence, kidnapping, abduction, homicide-related charges, making terroristic threats, ethnic intimidation, and sexually oriented offenses.
He also screened out inmates who have previously been denied judicial release, have previously served a prison sentence in Ohio, have a current warrant or holder, or have had any serious rules violations in prison during the last five years. This left 141 inmates eligible for emergency release under Ohio’s new overcrowding emergency statute. These inmates are all in minimum-security prisons and reside in open bays with 80-300 people in a large open room.
The second class of inmates involves individuals 60 years-old and over with chronic health conditions. The eligibility qualifications for these individuals are similar to those listed above, but also require no rules infractions for the past six years as well as not having 2 or more prior felony convictions in Ohio. Additionally, these individuals must have served at least half of their sentence. These qualifications narrow the field to 26 eligible inmates. Governor DeWine wants the parole board to begin reviewing their status this week in order to determine whether they recommend that he commute these individual’s sentences.