Email shows Reagan Tokes Act could shakeup Ohio criminal justice system

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COLUMBUS – A bill named after murdered Ohio State student Reagan Tokes will attempt to overhaul several parts of Ohio’s criminal justice system – including prison sentences, caseload burdens for parole officers and changing how GPS technology is used to track convicts once they’re released from prison, 10 Investigates has learned.

According to an email sent to House members in early September, the proposed Reagan Tokes Act - which has not been finalized or introduced yet - will attempt to address “four key shortfalls in the criminal justice system.” The bill follows a series of reports by 10 Investigates which highlighted how parole officials, the state and private agencies failed to monitor Brian Golsby, the man charged with Tokes’ death.

The emailed memo sent to House members on September 7 seeks co-sponsorship among members. The deadline for members to reply about co-sponsoring the bill was Monday, September 18.

Rep. Kristin Boggs, D – District 18, one of the co-authors along with Rep. Jim Hughes, R- District 24, said the bill has already received bi-partisan support, including acquiring eight co-sponsors (5 Democrats and 3 Republicans), Boggs said in an email Tuesday to 10 Investigates.

Boggs said in an email to 10 Investigates that the draft of the bill has not been finalized. She confirmed the authenticity of the memo obtained by 10 Investigates.

The memo says the legislation will also aim to do the following:

  • Require offenders convicted of a felony 1st or 2nd degree or a violent felony to be given an indeterminant sentences.
  • Require the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to recommend a reentry program for violent felons who are rejected by private reentry programs. The memo notes that currently violent felons can be released homeless with little to no safeguards that ensure they can assimilate back into society or that the community remains safe.
  • Require ODRC to establish guidelines that provide a maximum caseload for parole officers.
  • Set forth a policy to regulate GPS monitoring including requiring that every GPS monitor assigned to an offender include an inclusionary restriction,
  • It also calls on the ODRC to create a statewide database within two years that would track every offender on GPS monitoring and allow law enforcement agencies real-time access to the information.

A spokesman for Rep. Hughes said that Hughes was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Sources say a companion bill will be filed in the Senate.

In a series of reports spanning several months, 10 Investigates has uncovered monitoring gaps illustrating how violent offenders like Brian Golsby are not closely watched once they are released from prison. ODRC officials contend Golsby was “a hard to place offender” who was given an ankle monitor after his released from prison last fall. But 10 Investigates has learned he wasn’t closely watched.

Golsby, who was charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of Tokes, has pleaded not guilty to an 18-count indictment.

As 10 Investigates first reported last week, ODRC is considering letting out a request for proposal to see if there are potential agencies out there willing to take on so-called “hard to place offenders” like Golsby. *See that report here.

The department denies the potential state contract is being developed in wake of Golsby’s case. Those close to the matter contend that “hard to place offenders” have been a long-standing problem for years.

Tokes, an OSU student, was found raped and fatally shot in a Metro Park back in February. The man charged with her murder, Brian Golsby, is a violent ex-con who was released from prison three months before Tokes’ death. He has pleaded not guilty. Earlier this month, his attorneys made an unsuccessful pitch to have his trial moved out of Columbus. Judge Mark Serrott denied the defense attorneys’ motions to remove the death penalty from consideration.

Upon release, Golsby’s housing request was rejected by Alvis because he had served time for robbery and attempted rape. Instead, Golsby ended up staying at the EXIT program, a less restrictive community residential program that did not closely monitor his whereabouts, state parole records reviewed by 10 Investigates show.

Golsby was assigned a GPS tracking device by Alvis Inc. – a halfway house - at the state’s request. But that information was not closely watched, records show.

And when authorities did examine the GPS ankle monitor, the data allegedly placed Golsby in the areas of several violent robberies in the German Village area in the days and weeks that preceded Tokes’ kidnapping and murder.

10 Investigates reached out to ODRC officials who declined to comment because the bill has not been formally introduced. That could happen as early as next week, House officials confirm.

A copy of the memo, obtained by 10 Investigates, that was sent to House members is below:

From:
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2017 4:01 PM
To:
Subject: Co-Sponsor Request: Reagan Tokes Act

MEMORANDUM

To: All Members of the Ohio House of Representatives

From: Representatives Jim Hughes and Kristin Boggs

Date: September 7, 2017

RE: Co-Sponsor Request: Reagan Tokes Act

Fellow Colleagues,

We are planning to introduce a comprehensive bill to address four key shortfalls in the criminal justice system that became known because of the murder of Reagan Tokes. Similar legislation will be introduced in the Senate.

Reagan Tokes, a student at The Ohio State University, was kidnapped, raped, and killed on February 8, 2017 in the Short North. The man charged with her death was released from prison three months prior to her murder. He was on parole and being monitored by a GPS tracker. Evidence from his GPS tracker links him to six additional crimes of armed robberies that took place over several weeks and less than a mile away from where Reagan was abducted. His connection to Reagan’s murder was not a result of his GPS tracker, but because he left a cigarette butt in her car with his DNA.

The legislation provides the following:

1. Offenders convicted of a felony of the first or second degree or a felony of the third degree that is an offense of violence (murder, rape, etc.) will be sentenced to an indeterminate sentence. The indeterminate sentence will have a minimum sentence and a maximum sentence. Notably, this provision is one of recommendations set forth by the Criminal Justice Recodification Committee.

2. Requires DRC to create and recommend a reentry program for violent and dangerous felons being released from DRC that are rejected from private reentry programs, such as Alvis House or Oriana House. Currently, violent felons, the individuals who need to the most oversight, are released homeless, without any guardrails to help them assimilate back into society and ensure that the community remains safe.

3. Requires DRC to establish guidelines providing a maximum workload for parole officer cases that includes establishing a minimum number of hours a parole officers should dedicate to a parolee based on the parolee’s risk classification.

4. Sets forth policy to regulate GPS monitoring.

  • Requires every GPS monitor assigned to an offender released from prison to have an inclusionary restriction.
  • Within 2 years, DRC must establish a statewide database that keeps the information regarding each parolee’s GPS monitor. Requires all third-party vendors that provide GPS monitoring to utilize some form of crime scene correlation software that is capable of interfacing with the statewide database.
  • Provides that law enforcement will have real-time access to this information without having to request a subpoena to obtain the necessary information to investigate criminal activity.

If you wish to co-sponsor this legislation or if you have any questions, please contact Adam Beckler in Rep. Hughes’ office at Adam.Beckler@ohiohouse.gov or 614-466-8012 or Serena Finlay in Rep. Boggs’ office at Serena.Finlay@ohiohouse.gov or 614-266-1896, by Monday, September 18th at 5:00PM.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Representative Hughes
Representative Boggs

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