Report recommends lowering Ohio parole officers’ caseload

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio should significantly reduce the caseload of officers who supervise inmates upon their release from prison, and continue exploring a system that would allow real-time monitoring of inmates in the hopes of placing them near crimes, according to recommendations in a report released Monday.

The current caseload is one parole officer for every 76 inmates, a ratio that should be reduced to one for every 50, said the report commissioned by Gov. Mike DeWine.

That ratio should be lowered to one officer for every 40 in cases of inmates suffering from a mental illness or other disability, the report said. A message seeking comment was left with the union representing the state’s parole officers.

Ohio should also continue exploring ways to implement what’s known as “crime scene correlation technology,” which links inmates on GPS monitoring devices to recent crimes, as well as creating a centralized database of inmates on such devices that could be accessible to law enforcement, the report said.

DeWine, a Republican, ordered a review of the parole system following the alleged involvement of a recently released offender in a crash that killed two 6-year-old-cousins last year.

Defendant Raymond Walters has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 22 charges including murder in the August crash.

Police say Walters’ father was taking him to a hospital for mental health treatment when Walters stabbed him. Walters is accused of then stealing a police car and crashing the cruiser in downtown Dayton, hitting a minivan filled with children.

An earlier review ordered by DeWine found Walters’ supervision followed policy. But the Republican governor wanted to know if current policies were correct.

“When offenders are released from prison under the supervision of the state, our number one obligation must be to ensure that this supervision is performed with a focus on keeping the public safe,” DeWine said in a statement Monday.

Monday’s report also recommended ending the use of GPS monitoring on “offenders who have positively adjusted to prison and who are likely to be compliant with supervision conditions,” and diverting GPS resources to those inmates who pose a substantial risk to public safety.

“The use of GPS should be focused and not overbroad,” the report said.

A related report released earlier this year found there’s limited evidence that expanding the electronic monitoring of inmates in Ohio would reduce the rates at which ex-offenders commit new crimes or that it would enhance public safety.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press

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