As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect Ohio's prison system, Governor Mike DeWine has identified 167 inmates who he believes should be considered for emergency release due to concerns of overcrowding.
In making his recommendation, DeWine cited a longstanding statute (ORC 2967.18) that allows the Director of Rehabilitation and Correction to alert the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee of an overcrowding emergency and recommend that certain inmates be released to make more room. DeWine said that the unprecedented times caused by the coronavirus pandemic qualify to move forward with that statue.
Additionally, DeWine has asked that judges and prosecutors waive the standard 60-day notice for early release so that the recommendations can be taken directly to the parole board. The 167 inmates were identified by two processes, with the first 141 being comprised of inmates who were scheduled to be released within the next 90 days and who met certain requirements based on the nature of their crimes, criminal pasts and in-prison behavior. The other 26 inmates consist of prisoners 60 years or older who have one or more chronic health condition that makes them more vulnerable to coronavirus and who also meet similar requirements.
DeWine stressed that those who have committed acts such as sex offenses, homicide-related offenses, kidnapping, abduction, ethnic intimidation, making terroristic threats and domestic violence won't be released. Those who have been denied judicial release in the past have also not been considered.
Last week, DeWine identified 38 inmates consisting of 23 women who are either currently pregnant or recently gave birth and 15 who are over the age of 60 and are approaching their release dates who he believes they could be released early. Similarly, those inmates have not committed violent crimes, nor are they sex offenders.
According to DeWine, Ohio's prison population currently consists of 49,000 people.
As of Tuesday, Ohio has had 4,782 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,354 of which have resulted in hospitalization, 417 ICU admissions and 167 deaths. Dating back to the discovery of the state's first positive coronavirus case on March 9, DeWine has taken several measures to encourage physical distancing, including a stay-at-home order that is currently in place until at least May 1.
The names of the 167 inmates being considered for release can be found below: