Parents of Reagan Tokes prepare to remind lawmakers of “flawed system”

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – In her first appearance before state lawmakers in the fall of 2017, Lisa McCrary-Tokes made a tearful plea to lawmakers to fix what she called a “flawed” parole system.

“Our daughter lost her life over this flawed system, this is our reality that will never go away, change or get better for us. How many others were there before her?” Lisa McCrary-Tokes said before a Senate committee in late 2017.

This week, McCrary-Tokes plans to return to the Ohio Statehouse to continue to pressure lawmakers to vote for change.

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Her daughter, Reagan, an Ohio State senior, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender, Brian Golsby, in February of 2017.

Golsby was convicted of murder last April and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

Prior to the crime, Golsby was initially released from prison homeless in November of 2016 before eventually finding placement at the EXIT Program, a less-restrictive community housing center.

Alvis House, another halfway house, had refused to take Golsby because of his violent sex offender status but agreed - after being asked by the state - to provide a GPS ankle monitor. It did little to deter him.

Golsby was not closely monitored by Ohio’s Adult Parole Authority. The state also did not set geo-fencing barriers or “exclusion zones” that would have limited where Golsby could go, that was in direct violation of the department’s own policy, 10 Investigates first reported.

While at the EXIT Program, Golsby got sanctions for going AWOL from his halfway house, failed to charge the GPS monitor and robbed several people in the weeks leading up to Tokes’ murder. But no one thought to check the data from his GPS device.

“It is very clear there is still an issue and innocent people will be in danger until something is changed,” Lisa-McCrary Tokes told 10 Investigates Monday by phone from New York where she and her husband, Toby Tokes, had made an appearance on NBC prior to an upcoming episode of Dateline featuring Reagan’s story. “We are going to continue to push the element when it is so clearly flawed and broken, it happened prior to Reagan it happened after Reagan… they know it. And how can they not step up and support this second phase because the first part without the second part is not complete.”

In December, lawmakers passed – and then-governor John Kasich signed into a law – a portion of the Reagan Tokes Act that would allow judges to sentence violent felons to a range of years in prison rather than a set term. If prisoners show they have been rehabilitated or behave, the presumption would be that they could be released early.

This week, McCrary-Tokes plans to push for a second portion of the Reagan Tokes Act that would beef up and expand GPS monitoring of violent felons, allow law enforcement to have direct access to more information, lower caseloads for parole officers and create a study group to create a re-entry program for hard-to-place offenders who are often released from prison homeless.

An ODRC spokeswoman sent 10 Investigates the following statement:

“The issue of addressing high/excessive parole officer caseloads has been a priority with this administration. As you may know, our budget proposal will reduce caseloads for parole officers by providing local communities the funding necessary to manage and supervise low-level probation cases. Reducing caseloads will allow our parole officers to increase their focus and attention on high-risk offenders who need more intensive supervision after incarceration. To that end, we believe our budget proposal will allow us to meet the caseload requirements in the Regan Tokes Act.“

Over the past two years, a series of 10 Investigates reports has exposed flaws within the state’s parole system to adequately or accurately monitor violent felons under the watch of the state’s adult parole authority.

Among 10 Investigates’ findings:

  • State parole officers claim they are overwhelmed: there are roughly 450 parole officers statewide to monitor more than 37,000 parolees
    • We found despite this stats, parole officers were assigned last fall to monitor an empty parking lot of the new ODRC headquarters
  • Reagan Tokes wasn’t a one-off but one of many victims.
    • Eric Hendon was convicted of a 2013 murder in Barberton, Ohio while wearing a GPS ankle monitoring.
    • Quantaine Tate died by suicide following the alleged murder of his girlfriend in 2018. He repeatedly faced domestic violence charges and violated the terms of his post-release supervision. Days after the apparent murder-suicide, Columbus Division of Police found a storage unit. During his time on post-release control, the department twice declared him a parole violator-at-large – meaning the department lost track of his exact whereabouts. Two days the suspected murder-suicide, Tate’s suspected suicide on June 8, 2018, Columbus Police, acting on a tip, discovered a large cache of weapons in a storage unit they say belonged to Tate. Any one of the guns discovered could have potentially sent Tate back to prison.
    • Twice convicted rapist Anthony Pardon returned to Ohio in 2017 after serving nearly a decade in a Georgia prison as part of a prisoner transfer program. A Georgia judge decreed that Pardon “wear an ankle monitor and pay for all expenses.” But Ohio did not put an ankle monitor on him, noting in transfer records that it had concerns about the timing and the expense issue. Pardon is currently facing a capital murder trial over the death of 2018
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