For Immediate Release:
January 13, 1998
Ohio Introduces New Paroling Guidelines
(Columbus) -- Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Reginald A. Wilkinson today introduced revised release guidelines for use by the Ohio Parole Board. "These guidelines are designed to better identify the risk of inmates re-offending," said Wilkinson. "Our goal is to utilize state of the art techniques so that decisions on whether or not to release offenders are made with public safety uppermost in our minds." The new guidelines will take effect on March 1, 1998 and will affect approximately 33,000 of the departments 48,000 inmates.
The revised guidelines were developed by the Ohio Parole Board in concert with Dr. Peter B. Hoffman, former staff director of the U.S. Parole Commission and principal technical advisor to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. "As part of our effort to improve parole decision-making, we contacted Dr. Hoffman in November of 1995 and asked him to help us develop guidelines that are more in synch with todays complex justice system," said Parole Board Chair Margarette Ghee. "Dr. Hoffman, who serves as a consultant to the department, is one of the most experienced consultants in the nation regarding both federal and state parole guideline systems," said Ghee. "The changes driven by Ohios "truth in sentencing" law (Senate Bill 2) make the new guidelines even more timely."
The guidelines consist of a two-dimensional grid (attached). One axis lists categories that encompass "seriousness of offense." The other axis allows the Board to assess "risk of recidivism" in four categories. A recommended range of time to serve (in months) is located at each of the 52 gridline intersections. The Board may depart from the guidelines in cases where there are substantial aggravating circumstances such as serious prison misconduct or mitigating circumstances such as outstanding institutional behavior and program completion. Thus, institutional conduct may be viewed as a third dimension to the guideline grid. The Board will provide the offender with specific, written reasons for its decision.
The new guidelines will also allow the Board to inform most inmates of their presumptive release date the first time they see the Board. These dates may be established up to ten years from the date of the hearing, and will be contingent on good institutional behavior as well as on the prisoners participation in rehabilitative programming.
For those offenders who may serve more than ten years, the Board will schedule reconsideration hearings after the initial ten-year period has been served. Prisoners serving time for sex offenses or life sentences will not be given a presumptive release date. In those cases the Board will hold an "open" hearing at the time the inmate is considered for release.
"The revised guidelines differ from the former guidelines in four fundamental ways," said Wilkinson. "First, they address the total amount of time to be served before release to the community, not just the increments of time between hearings. Second, they focus more directly on the seriousness of the total offense and behavior. Third, with the caveat that predicting human behavior is never an exact science, the new guidelines employ a revised recidivism prediction instrument that will provide substantially more accurate results and which can be scored more consistently. Finally, rather than being informed of the date of their next parole hearing, offenders will be told exactly when they can expect to be released. As long as their behavior is good, and they sincerely participate in their own rehabilitation, they can reasonably expect to go home at that time," concluded Wilkinson.
Revising the parole process in general has been a focus for the department since 1991. The new guidelines cap an effort that includes: conducting administrative reviews of serious parole failures (1992), formal notification of parole hearings for victims (1992), modification of the parole guidelines (1993), development of internal audit standards (1993), comprehensive offender background investigations for those entering prison without pre-sentence investigations (1994), accreditation by the American Correctional Association (1995), implementation of a revised parole revocation process for appropriate technical violators which provides graduated sanctions as an alternative to returning them to prison (1995), review and assessment of the risk instrument and parole guidelines (with Dr. Hoffman, 1995), the addition of a victim advocate to the Parole Board (1996) the opening of "Full Board" hearings to victims, inmate advocates, prosecutors, judges and the media, and giving the public greater access to Parole Board records (1997). The Parole Board has also benefited from technology, conducting some parole hearings via videoconferencing and issuing laptop computers to staff to replace bulky, unwieldy inmate records.
For more information, please contact the Ohio Parole Board at (614) 752-1200.
PAROLE GUIDELINES CHART 1998
Applicable Guideline Range in Months to be served Before Release by Offense Category and Criminal History/Risk Score. The highlighted numbers illustrate the number of months to be served.
|Offense Category||Criminal History/Risk Score|
|(0 or 1)||(2, 3, or 4)||(5 or 6)||(7 or 8)|
The Parole Guidelines Chart sets forth the applicable guideline range (in total months to be served before release, including jail time) based on the seriousness of the offenders current offense and the offenders criminal history/risk score. The applicable guideline range presumes good institutional conduct, fulfillment of any special conditions imposed by the Parole Board, and the development of a suitable release plan. The Parole Board may depart from the guidelines (either upward or downward) for good cause upon the provision of specific written reasons.
Aggravated murder carries an offense category of 13 while vehicular homicide falls under category 7. The risk score is determined by adding points for prior convictions, recent convictions (within three years of the current offense), whether the offender was on parole, probation or escape status at the time of the offense, any history of parole revocation (for violating parole), and age at the time of offense.
The applicable guideline range does not supersede any minimum or maximum sentence applicable to the offender.