Ohio Parole Board under fire: 5 things to know

The Ohio Parole Board is facing scrutiny after a public rebuke from former board member Shirley Smith.

This Sunday, the Dayton Daily News dug into why the board is under fire and how it operates.

Here’s five things reporter Laura Bischoff learned.

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1. The board operates largely behind closed doors.

Initial hearings are not open to the public. Records are kept secret. Full board meetings are open to the public but debate and votes are conducted behind closed doors.

New Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers-Smith said more transparency is needed.

2. The board makes decisions over nearly 9,000 inmates' futures.

The board has discretion over whether nearly 9,000 inmates should be released: 3,900 inmates sentenced before July 1, 1996 – so-called ‘old law’ inmates before Ohio’s truth-in-sentencing law mandated definitive sentences – and nearly 5,000 inmates serving life sentences for serious crimes such as murder.

3. About 10 percent of those before the board are granted release.

Between 2011 and October 2018, the parole board granted release for 1,076 inmates out of the 10,575 hearings it held – 10.2 percent.

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4. The board members make $100,000 a year.

The DRC director appoints up to 12 people to the board. It is a full-time job that pays more than $100,000 a year. Except for the chair and the victim representative, members are limited to two, six-year terms.

5. Both victims and inmates are frustrated with the board.

Multiple crime victims’ families as well as inmates told the Dayton Daily News that they are frustrated with the process and want reforms. While their reasons were different, both groups said they wanted more transparency from the board.

Want to learn more? For the full story on what Laura Bischoff found, click here.