Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Proposal Would Expand Scope of Criminal Sentencing Commission

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor proposed on Thursday to significantly expand the scope of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission 24 years after its birth.

In a presentation at a commission meeting, Chief Justice O’Connor advocated for expanding the commission “into a larger, more comprehensive entity that can work to help all of the state’s justice system partners … to combat crime in our state in an inter-related, multi-dimensional way.”

Chief Justice O’Connor, who serves as chair of the commission, said she has had discussions with Ohio Senate President Keith Faber about the proposal that would also change the name of the body to the Ohio Criminal Justice Commission. The commission still would be housed under the Supreme Court organizational structure.

“For many years, we have seen different organizations take on a sliver of the larger criminal justice pie, only to lament that their focus was too limited or did not include a review of other issues that tie into the issue which they were reviewing,” she said.

Under the proposal, the new entity would continue to address sentencing but also would take on related issues such as probation and risk assessment, juvenile justice, data collection and sharing, domestic violence, specialized dockets, access to legal representation, and traffic issues.

“As a former prosecutor and director of the Department of Public Safety, I am keenly aware that in order to address the many issues involved with crime, we, both as a society and government, need to look at the issue holistically,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

The General Assembly created the commission in 1990 by statute. It is responsible for conducting a review of Ohio’s sentencing statutes and sentencing patterns, and making recommendations regarding necessary statutory changes. The commission consists of 31 members, 10 of whom are judges appointed by the chief justice.

The chief justice’s proposal requires legislative approval.