Report on issues surrounding ex-felons due to Governor DeWine by end of month


COLUMBUS (WBNS) – A working group created by Governor Mike DeWine in wake of a series of violent crimes attributed to ex-felons is expected to file a report with the governor’s office by the end of January.

The report is expected to include recommendations to the governor on how to improve public safety in Ohio and address gaps with how ex-prisoners are monitored once they’re released from prison.

Governor DeWine created the group in late 2019 following an August incident in which a Dayton man, Raymond Walters, who had been released from prison and was under the watch of the Adult Parole Authority, was arrested after allegedly stabbing his father, stealing a police car and crashing it – killing two children.

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But DeWine’s executive order also asked the group to study issues surrounding GPS and gaps with how ex-prisoners are monitored – an issue that became widely known in 2017 after the kidnapping, rape and murder of Ohio State student Reagan Tokes.

Tokes was kidnapped while leaving her job in the Short North area of Columbus, raped and fatally shot by Brian Golsby, a violent sexual predator who had been released from prison months earlier and assigned a GPS ankle monitor.

But records show he wasn’t closely monitored.

Golsby went AWOL from the residential housing facility he was living in, failed to charge the device, and eventually, carried out a string of violent robberies in the German Village area in the weeks and days leading up to Tokes’ kidnapping, rape and murder.

Throughout the past two months, the group’s meetings have often been held on weekdays and has studied Golsby’s case and that of 11 other ex-prisoners.

On Thursday night, during the group’s public comment hearing, Rep. Kristin Boggs, D – House District 18, -- who is sponsoring a bill named after Tokes that seeks to beef up GPS monitoring, give police access to that information and reduce parole officer caseloads – read a letter on behalf of Lisa McCrary-Tokes, Reagan’s mother, who could not attend the meeting because she lives in Florida.

Boggs read the letter that stated in part: “Trust us you don't want to know what it feels like. But our situation could happen to any of you at any time if something isn't done to correct what is broken. We wish it had been previously done and Reagan would still be with us.”

Throughout a handful of meetings, the group has heard various feedback from stakeholders – including a University of Cincinnati study that raised questions about if a wide expansion of GPS use would actually reduce rates of recidivism among ex-prisoners.

On Friday, Joe Medici, chief counsel with the Ohio Public Defenders Association, spoke before the group.

“Our concern is that under the current system, due to heavy caseloads and staffing levels, the Adult Parole Authority is effectively unable to provide the targeted support needed for positive re-entry,” Medici said.

Currently, the APA’s caseload ratio is about 76 parolees for every 1 officer. Medici said that translates that each officer would be able to focus about 31 minutes per week on each parolee.

Medici says his agency had concerns about the wide expansion of GPS. Among the concerns is that it could negatively impact a person’s ability to re-enter society and that the cost is too high.

Kevin Talebi, the Champaign County prosecutor and member of the working group, said he is in favor of the expansion of GPS.

“There is a cost that society has to deal with from the victim's perspective as well that you can't break down into dollars and cents as clearly as they'd like,” he said.

When asked if he would be recommending to the working group that the state expand the use of GPS, he said: “I absolutely will yes.

He added that he wants any expansion to be meaningful.

Annette Chambers-Smith, the co-chair of the working group and director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, would not say what the group was preparing to recommend with regard to GPS expansion.

“You will see our recommendations in writing,” she said.