Letters to the editor: Sunday, Oct. 31

Editor’s Note: On Oct. 26, the Dayton Daily News ran an op-ed from former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton on SB 256, a bill regarding juvenile parole hearings that was passed into law in April.

We are victims who are impacted by Senate Bill 256. We are responding to former Justice Stratton’s op-ed. We appreciate her perspective but strongly disagree with her.

ExploreVOICES: SB 256 provides balance between needs of juveniles and rights of victims

Our opposition to SB 256 does not result from misunderstanding—we know what SB 256 does, and many of us have read it. SB 256 mandates parole eligibility for most juvenile criminals every five years. Depending on how many juveniles victimized them, victims could endure an intense number of parole hearings. Whether or not an offender is released, the parole hearings themselves cause significant trauma.

SB 256 is poorly written. It mandates parole eligibility for all juveniles except those who are the principal offender in three or more murders (the T.J. Lane exception). A juvenile who shoots 10 people, killing one and injuring nine, is entitled to parole hearings. SB256 is also unnecessary—the Supreme Court has ruled that juvenile murderers can receive life without parole.

Ohio lawmakers recognize that some juveniles should never leave prison. That’s why SB 256 has a triple homicide exception to preserve Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane’s life without parole sentence. If all juveniles deserve “second chances”, then SB 256 would provide such a chance for Lane. Apparently, avoiding the controversy of making Lane parole-eligible took precedence over his “second chance.” If life without parole is OK for T.J. Lane then, it’s OK for other juveniles who commit equally heinous crimes.

We hope that the legislature will support victims by amending SB 256. We will be glad to speak with Justice Stratton and any SB 256 proponents to find a middle ground.

Signed,

Joann Mitzel, mother of Michael Abighanem; Karen Kirk, daughter of Marie Belcastro; John Kirk, son in law of Marie Belcastro; Deborah O’Leary, daughter of Marie Belcastro; Brian Kirk, grandson of Marie Belcastro; Leanne Venetta Klippel, cousin of Marie Belcastro; Natalie March, cousin of Marie Belcastro; Karen Caravella, friend of Marie Belcastro; Gwendolyn Maxwell, friend of Marie Belcastro; Jessica Combs, mother of Ronnie Bowers; Patty Sacco, niece of Margaret Douglas; Tim Maust, father of T.J. Maust; Tenisha Harper, sister of T.J. Maust; Bob McCreery, father of Dawn McCreery; Rob McCreery, brother of Dawn McCreery; Jon Offredo, brother of Wendy Offredo; Deb Pauley Bruce, sister of David Pauley; Joe Rudd, attempted murder victim, and wife Joanne Rudd


Last week I was pleased to get the opportunity to thank Senator Portman’s staff for his vote in committee on legislation that would help Congress reassert its constitutional authority over when our country goes to war. This bipartisan legislation, SJ Res 10, is expected to come to the Senate floor in the next couple of weeks.

Both of our Senators support S.J. Res 10, legislation that would repeal the bill that authorized the U.S. war in Iraq – a war that ended in 2011. It’s past time for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority to debate and vote on when we go to war, instead of leaving this up to the executive branch. The American people deserve to have a voice.

I urged Senator Portman to join Senator Brown and 41 other bipartisan cosponsors by declaring his public support for this bill. The President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America, Vote Vets, Common Defense, and the Heritage Foundation are just a few of the many groups across the political spectrum who support this repeal.

Senator Portman’s cosponsoring this legislation will help demonstrate the public support to ensure this war authorization is repealed this year.

Tim Heishman, Kettering