In the last 30 years there has been a prison boom in the United States and a wave of mass incarceration has swept our nation , leaving devastating casualties in its wake. Mandatory minimums have been applied on a broad spectrum , instead of applying comprehensive sentencing on a case by case basis that sets out to actually reform and rehabilitate the offender. The mantra shouted by all politicians ” get tough on crime ” has placed society into a frenzied , vengeful state of mind while those very same politicians pass legislation that sets complex and compounding sentencing structures in place.
For example , the State of Ohio has three different sentencing structures in place that governs the Criminal Justice system , and none of those laws are retroactive in any shape form or fashion. First , you have the “Old Law ” prisoners with indefinite prison terms that were sentenced before July 1st , 1996 , where an offender could be sentenced to a term of 10 to 25 years for the commision of a felony in the first degree. Second , anyone sentenced after July 1st ,1996 falls up under Senate Bill 2 , wherein definite prison terms where put into place , and an offender could be sentenced to anywhere in between 3 to 10 years for committing a felony in the first degree. The definite prison term meant a ” flat ” sentence – do the 3 , 5 , 7 or at the very worst 10 years that you were sentenced to. Third , there is House Bill 86 , which is legislation that was passed and meant to clean up the mess of having not made retroactive the law governing ” Old Law ” prisoners and those sentenced after July 1st , 1996 , under Senate Bill 2. The three very different sentencing laws conflict with one another in every way , yet they stand in trilogy under one Constitution ; Ohio’s.
In April 18th , 2016 the Toledo Blade ran an article in their newspaper , titled ” Capping Sentences. ” The article was premised upon ” Unlocking Ohio ” and creating proactive legislation that would cure Ohio of its overcrowded prison system. Further , elaboration went to speak about how the General Assembly created the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee , and assigned to them the task of giving the criminal code its first comprehensive overhaul and review in two decades. The Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee was to recommended that legislators enact a 20 year sentencing cap , barring exceptional circumstances , on minimum sentences.
* In Ohio , such a cap would affect 8,300 prisoners , including those convicted of murder. That includes 6,500 offenders with life or life-without-parole sentences. And , another 1,800 inmates with defined sentences greater than 20 years.
Unfortunately , no sense of urgency has been placed on The Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee to perfom their assigned task. It is now 2018 , nearly a full two years since the Toledo Blade ran that article , and this writer holds the position that we need to rerun that same informative piece around the State of Ohio in other forward thinking newspapers to begin a much needed conversation amongst the voting public. It costs $ 9,000 a year to educate a child in the State of Ohio , or $ 109,000 to send that same child to The Ohio Division of Youth Services. The disproportionate spending of tax dollars by the state government needs to be thoroughly examined , because these same youth become a part of the industrious school-to-prison pipeline that has become so prevalent in our society. Their is typically no reform or rehabilitation going on in Ohio prisons , and instead of the desired intention happening , the main thing going on is the warehousing of human beings.
Today is March 8th , 2018 and I’ve now been incarcerated/warehoused in Ohio prisons for 17 years. I have joined the NAACP in their efforts to fight for equality , hoping to bring about reform to the fundamental miscarriage of justice that Ohio carries out in its prison system. I stand as a man of God first and foremost , and I’m a wrongfully convicted prisoner seeking relief wherever my freedom it is to be found. The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution says that slavery is abolished… ” except ” in the form of punishment. We all very well know that the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is perhaps the greatest crime this country ever perpetrated on her people. So , shall it continue to be committed in the form of punishment in our State prisons ???
Categories: Antwan Reid