DeWine announces recommendations to hire parole officers, expand GPS of offenders

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (WBNS-10TV)

DAYTON (WBNS) — Governor Mike DeWine announced a series of changes and recommendations Monday aimed at fixing shortfalls with how the state monitors prisoners once they’re released.

The recommendation came from a working group created by the governor last fall in wake of several tragedies where violent ex-offenders were released from prison and later charged with murder or other violent crimes.

Monday’s recommendations include a plan to reduce parole officer caseloads, increase the use of GPS monitoring and expand the state’s use of technology to better predict which offenders might commit future acts of violence as well as improve tracking of offenders.

Advertisement - Story continues below

“I’m doing this because the safety and security of Ohioans demand that Ohio invest in the supervision of dangerous former inmates,” DeWine said.

The working group made 11 recommendations - including expanding GPS, adding new crime scene correlation software, and others. Governor DeWine also announced a series of changes outside of that, including:

  • The APA will begin working to reduce parole officers’ caseloads to 50:1 for general caseloads and 40:1 for specialized caseloads to allow parole officers to provide more thorough supervision. The current average caseload size is 76:1.
  • The use of specialized caseloads will be expanded to place specific offenders, such as sex offenders and those suffering from mental illness, with parole officers who are experienced in supervising these populations.
  • The APA will develop a case-assignment process that balances the number of offenders supervised by each parole officer with each offender’s risk level and the duties associated with each level.
  • The Ohio Department of Public Safety will partner with the APA to more effectively respond to GPS-monitoring violations at night and on the weekends.
  • The APA will require inclusion and exclusion zones for all offenders on GPS monitoring to clearly define specific areas where these offenders, including those who are homeless, are permitted or prohibited from being located.
  • Ohio’s highest-risk offenders will be subject to longer periods of monitoring, and these offenders will be supervised by the most experienced parole officers.
  • A sentinel events review process will be developed to regularly and thoroughly examine incidents of recidivism among offenders on post-release control.
  • The APA will revise its policies to put more focus on behavioral-change strategies that help offenders make positive choices.

Governor DeWine formed the post release working group in October, partially in response to an incident involving ex-offender Raymond Walters, who had been in and out of Ohio’s prison system multiple times. In August - while assigned to the watch of a rookie parole officer from the Adult Parole Authority - Walters was accused of stabbing his father, stealing a police car and crashing it - killing two children in the collision.

While that incident may have prompted DeWine to form this panel, the group’s task has largely centered issues that 10 Investigates has been reporting on for years - namely, repeated incidents of violent ex-prisoners committing new acts of violence - including murders - while under post release control supervision.

Some of those high profile examples include the 2017 rape, kidnapping and murder of Ohio State student Reagan Tokes, who was killed by Brian Golsby while Golsby was wearing a GPS ankle monitor. The murder uncovered flaws in the state’s parole supervision - especially after it was revealed Golsby committed a string of violent robberies in the days and weeks leading up to Tokes’ murder.

Then there was the 2018 rape and murder of Rachael Anderson, who was killed by Anthony Pardon - a man who had spent 35 years of his life in prison and returned to Ohio in 2017 to serve out his post release probation as part of a prison exchange program with the state of Georgia. Pardon was not placed on a GPS ankle monitor, despite a judge’s order requiring that it occur. Ohio said it could not comply with that request because of the length of time (20 years) and the “expense issue.”

Just last month, 10 Investigates exposed how a violent convicted felon was assigned to a new post release control program that allows ex-prisoners to check in with their parole officers over the phone. The program, known as ATR or automated telephone reporting, was designed in part to lower parole officer caseloads. Currently there are 485 parole officers assigned to monitor more than 30,000 ex-prisoners on some type of supervision.

While on telephone reporting, 10 Investigates learned that Roshawn Cumberlander was charged with killing his on-again-off-again girlfriend Tomika Turner. He has pleaded not guilty.

Turner’s brother, Tyren, and a spokesman for the parole officers’ union, Anthony Caldwell, both questioned why Cumberlander would have been assigned to that program given that he had past felony convictions for aggravated assault and cocaine possession.

While on the program, Tomika Turner accused Cumberlander of smashing the windshield of her son’s car. No charges were filed. Cumberlander was also cited for marijuana possessions.

Telephone reporting limits face-to-face interactions between parole officer and parolees making it hard to know if they are complying with their program or committing new crimes. Tyren Turner believes his sister might have been alive if Cumberlander were more closely monitored.

In wake of 10 Investigates reporting, DeWine said Monday that he wants the working group to look into that issue and further study the use of telephone reporting.

“I was concerned by that story, they are going to take a look at it, they are going to come back with a recommendation.”

Filed under: