Senators: Reagan Tokes Act gaining support, questions remain among ODRC officials

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COLUMBUS – A key lawmaker co-sponsoring a bill named after the murdered Ohio State student Reagan Tokes says the bill is gaining strong support among Ohio lawmakers but there are concerns and questions among state corrections officials about certain portions of the legislation that could shake up the state’s criminal justice system.

“Yeah I can’t put (ODRC) on the record as saying they have come out to fully endorse it but they have been engaged. We just met with them. They like many of the components of the bill, they also have areas they would like to have changed,” State Senator Kevin Bacon, R – District 3, told 10 Investigates Wednesday. “So we are working on it, but it’s been very positive communication.”

Bacon and Senator Sean O’Brien, D – District 32, both told 10 Investigates that they met with officials with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials Tuesday regarding questions and concerns about the Reagan Tokes Act.

“Some of their concerns are making sure how the monitoring is done, making sure we are calculating it right, some other constitutional issues that may affect how sentences are done. So there are quite a few issues where we’ve had discussions and going to continue on,” O’Brien said. “They are overall supportive of the bill and said so yesterday in a meeting that we had with them there’s just some concerns that they have that we have to ferret out to make sure that we have the best bill that’s going to protect Ohioans.”’

An ODRC spokesman sent this email statement to 10 Investigates: "DRC is in support of sentencing reform and is looking forward to continuing to work with the senators."

The bill seeks to overhaul parts of the state’s criminal justice system by changing how violent felons are sentenced to prison along with how they are monitored once released from prison.

The legislation came after a series of reports in May and July by 10 Investigates that first exposed shortfalls and failures in the state’s criminal justice system to closely monitor the man charged with Tokes’ death. 10 Investigates first approached lawmakers about the issues and if there was a need for legislation in May of 2017.

Tokes was kidnapped, raped and murdered back in February. The man charged with her death, Brian Golsby, had been released from prison three months beforehand – and because he was a violent sex offender – state parole officials assigned him a GPS ankle monitor.

But in a series of reports, 10 Investigates reported that despite being assigned an ankle monitor, there were no restrictions placed on Golsby’s movement and no one was closely watching his whereabouts.

Bacon and O’Brien answered questions from fellow lawmakers Wednesday about the bill. Rep. Jim Hughes and Rep. Kristin Boggs introduced the House version of the bill before a House criminal justice panel last week.

Bacon says he expects the bill to move forward quickly. Hughes mentioned to 10 Investigates last week that he might introduce an emergency provision into the bill which would make it law immediately after Gov. John Kasich’s signature instead of the typical 90 days upon passage.

Bacon told 10 Investigates that Reagan’s parent, Lisa McCrary-Tokes and Toby Tokes are expected to speak on behalf of the bill during a committee hearing next week.

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