Reagan Tokes Act passes Ohio House

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A bill named after murdered Ohio State student Reagan Tokes cleared a major legislative hurdle.

The Ohio House version of the Reagan Tokes Act was passed 83-3 during a floor vote Wednesday afternoon.

“This is huge day, certainly thrilled that this received such bi-partisan support,” Rep. Kristin Boggs, D – District 18 one of the primary sponsors of the bill.

The bill is named after Ohio State student Reagan Tokes, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in February of 2017 by Brian Golsby, a convicted sex offender, who was convicted in March and sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutors say Tokes was abducted in the Short North area as she left work from her job at Bodega restaurant and bar.

Golsby had been released from prison just three months before Tokes’ death in November of 2016 and was wearing a GPS ankle monitor at the time of the crime. Police records show Golsby committed a string of robberies in the weeks – and even the day before – Tokes’ murder.

Golsby had served six years in prison for attempted rape and robbery and acquired 52 sanctions while behind bars. Despite evidence he was not rehabilitated, state law required him to be released. The Tokes Act seeks to change that.

House Bill 365 would dramatically change how violent felons are sentenced to prison and how they are watched once they are released.

The legislation followed a series of 10 Investigates reports that exposed failures of the state’s parole system to closely track Golsby and others.

“You've done a great job -- you and your station have analyzed a lot of this stuff and pointed out examples of where they have not been monitored and we have victims throughout the state because of it,” Rep. Jim Hughes, R – District 24, told 10 Investigates Wednesday.

The legislation also has two companion bills in the Ohio Senate.

SB 201 was voted out of the Senate in May. It seeks to create indeterminate sentencing in Ohio, which would allow judges to sentence violent felons to a range of years in prison rather than a finite amount of years.

The idea is to incentivize inmates to behave while in prison. If they behave, there’s a chance their sentences could be reduced.

If they act out – as Golsby did – they could receive a lengthier prison term.

Under current Ohio law, offenders cannot be given additional for misbehaving while incarcerated.

SB 202 attempts to address the other issues raised in the legislation – creating a statewide GPS database for offenders, forcing the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to create a re-entry program for hard-to-place offenders and reducing the caseload burdens for parole officers.

HB 365 encompasses all the components of both SB 201 and SB 202.

The major difference – HB 365 strips all the power from ODRC when it comes to the issue of determining if an inmate should be released early from prison. HB 365 calls for a sentencing judge to make that determination. SB 201 would leave the power with ODRC to determine if that the inmate is going to be released early but allows a judge to veto the decision.

The Ohio Public Defenders have spoken in opposition of HB 365 bill saying that it will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and force the state to build more prisons. The group has said that SB 201 is more palatable.

10 Investigates reached out to ODRC for comment but did not hear back before news time.

The Tokes family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against ODRC alleging that they were negligent and failed to closely monitor Golsby.

Attorneys for the state have responded to that lawsuit – asking that it be dismissed – and stating in part that Tokes’ death was caused "by Brian Golsby. And Brian Golsby alone. DRC is not legally responsible for what he did."

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