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Is parole in Ohio difficult for older inmates?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Some crimes are so severe that convictions lead to lengthy prison terms. Someone serving a 40-year sentence likely realizes parole won’t come early or easy. Older inmates who received prison sentences before 1996 may feel the Ohio Parole Board’s standards for approving parole might be too high for them to reach. Of course, each case is different. While data could suggest many older inmates serving long terms face disappointments at their parole hearings, the possibility of a positive result exists.

Older inmates and parole in Ohio

Parole in Ohio is somewhat unique since there’s an “old law” and “new law” component in play. On July 1, 1996, the state implemented changes to the parole system. The revision was enormous, as judges now make parole determinations for those who committed crimes after the law’s implementation. Only persons serving life sentences go before a parole board. Inmates convicted long before the “Truth in Sentencing Act” still deal with the challenges of swaying a parole board.

Ohio’s parole board statutes present vagueness, as the board is allowed “discretion” when reviewing a parole request. Discretion could mean virtually anything, leaving inmates unsure how the board will treat their case.

Establishing a compelling case for parole

The board’s “discretion” could make presenting a case at a hearing a challenge. Criminal defense strategies during a trial often involve raising reasonable doubt, which may be possible when numerous question marks exist surrounding witness testimony or other evidence. A parole board is not a jury, and reasonable doubt is not the bar. However, the board does review evidence when making parole determinations.

The new parole request might be more substantial when the inmate presents details about adhering to all previous parole board recommendations. Detailing good behavior, enrollment in educational programs and a lack of disciplinary issues might all help the inmate’s case.