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Inspector General: Ohio parolees being held too long in jail

Parole authorities in Ohio violated their own policies by allowing parolees to be held in jail longer than the allotted time frame to schedule a hearing, according to a new report from the Office of the Ohio Inspector General.
Parole authorities in Ohio violated their own policies by allowing parolees to be held in jail longer than the allotted time frame to schedule a hearing, according to a new report from the Office of the Ohio Inspector General.

Parole authorities in Ohio violated their own policies by allowing parolees to be held in jail longer than the allotted time frame to schedule a hearing, according to a new report from the Office of the Ohio Inspector General.

The report details four complaints made to the OIG in 2015 in which parolees were held in Ohio jails for parole violations for weeks or even months without having a hearing scheduled with the Adult Parole Authority. Hearings are supposed to be scheduled within 20 business days, according to the APA's own policy.

In one case in Columbus, a man arrested for theft was placed under a hold for violating his parole on Nov. 25, 2014. The 20-day clock to schedule his hearing began on Dec. 19 when he was found guilty of his new charge and sentenced to a suspended 180 days in jail. The jail was to hold him until a parole hearing was scheduled even though he was free to go on the new charge.

But the man’s parole officer had been placed on administrative leave on Dec. 17 for an unrelated matter.

He wasn’t assigned a new parole officer until Jan. 27, 2015, meaning his release from the parole hold came weeks after the 20-day limit.

In two of the other cases, parole supervisors were only made aware that an individual was being held for too long when jail or court staff contacted them about the issue.

“The Ohio APA, parole officers, and the supervisor involved in these incidents failed to follow established APA policies requiring the scheduling of hearings for parole violations within 20 business days of the parolee ‘becoming available’ for a hearing and assure weekly in-custody status checks,” the report states.

The report notes that if a parole hearing isn’t scheduled in the allowed time frame, it voids any action the APA could take to revoke parole or impose sanctions.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which oversees the APA, has 60 days to officially respond to the report, but told OIG officials that while the policy states that hearings must be held within 20 days of parolee availability, court rulings in Ohio have said they can take a “reasonable amount of time.”

The OIG has recommended the agency update its policy to better clarify if there are exceptions to the 20-day rule. The other recommendation is to update the policy on how parole officers are to be informed of changes in custody status.

“A lot of times the parole officers may be relying on other means than calling the clerks office and saying, ‘Did anything get filed today on this parolee?’” said Deputy Inspector General Carl Enslen. “They were in some instances allowing this to drift without really doing the work to check that closely.”