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DeWine requests early release of 38 of Ohio's 49,000 prisoners, including pregnant women, older inmates

Posted at 3:32 PM, Apr 03, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is requesting the early release of 38 non-violent offenders from the state’s prisons, including 23 women who are pregnant or have a child in prison, as part of a plan to make Ohio’s prisons safer from the coronavirus spread.

Visitation has already stopped, and employees, contractors and inmates at the state’s prisons are being screened, “but no system is perfect,” DeWine said during his daily coronavirus briefing Friday. “We’ve seen what has been happening in other states.”

There are almost 49,000 prisoners in correctional institutions around Ohio, DeWine said.

“I felt it was important to look at our prison population,” DeWine said. “We’ve started to look at different prisoners who it might make sense to send home early.”

To that end, DeWine is sending letters to judges in the state to ask about the 38 prisoners who might be able to be released early. DeWine was quick to note these are not sex offenders, murderers or domestic abusers – “we’ve screened out many people.”

Among the 38 the governor is seeking early release for are 23 women in prisons who are pregnant or have children, and 15 people over the age of 60 who are approaching their release date, whom DeWine’s office believes could be released early.

“Again, these are not serious violent offenders,” DeWine said.

DeWine is sending the letters, but it will ultimately be at the discretion of the judges as to whether or not to release these prisoners early.

“These individuals seem to make sense, but ultimately this is going to be up to the judge, and the judge that either heard the case, or the judge that occupies a seat of the judge who heard the case,” DeWine said. “So what we wanted to instill here is a local control, and a local input. The prosecutor has the right to have input. The victim has the right to input.”