COLUMBUS — Two Mount Vernon officers were recognized for their services at the Ohio Bailiffs & Court Officers Association (OBACOA) Fall training Oct. 24 at the Ohio Supreme Court.
Mount Vernon Municipal Court Security Officer Tom Brown received the highest award — the Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton Award — for his leadership in developing effective court security systems at the municipal court and throughout the state of Ohio.
David Lashley, Bailiff and Director of Court Security for Knox County Common Pleas Court, was awarded a Certificate of Special Recognition for his contributions to the OBACOA’s training curriculum.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s a new way to patrol and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says it’s been a problem for far too long.
“I would suggest since the 1950s, when this problem really started with the closure of mental health hospitals,” Sgt. Scott Blacker said.
Sgt. Blacker is with the Community Intervention and Diversion unit, or CID. He says in the last 10 years, the sheriff’s office has seen an excessively high number of people in jail who struggle with mental illness.
“But when you look at that, is that the appropriate place to house somebody who’s got mental issues?” Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said.
Baldwin says these inmates were being locked up for crimes like public indecency, trespassing and crimes of survival like stealing food to eat. Before, Baldwin says it was quick and easy to put them in cuffs. Now, a new initiative is changing that mindset.
“What we’re finding is it’s very, very successful,” Baldwin said.
Since January, the CID unit, partnering with ADAMH and Netcare, has responded to 438 calls. Shawn Daniels is one of the Netcare mobile crisis clinicians.
“There are runs that we’ve been on and there are clients who have been critically ill,” she said. “They were psychotic.”
Daniels and Deputy Brent McKitrick see the benefit of keeping people out of jail and getting them to mental health treatments.
“It’s a great program for the community and for people who might be suffering from these problems,” McKitrick said.
And this program is saving taxpayers quite a bit of money.
Sgt. Blacker says if those 438 people had spent a minimum of three days in jail, that would have cost about $30,000. Sheriff Baldwin says out of a 2,000 daily population of inmates, an average of 719 have mental health issues.
“If we only diverted a fourth of them, we should save about a quarter-million dollars a month,” Baldwin said.
Retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton says this program is worth it. She helped start the Stepping Up initiative in Ohio and says this type of program works.
“It’s not all that you have to have new money,” she said. “You just stop wasting money with horrible outcomes.”
Currently, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has four deputies on CID who are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sgt. Blacker says he hopes to soon have a couple of CID deputies on second shift, as well.
Michael Woody, CIT Coordinator for Ohio, former CIT international president, law enforcement liaison for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence, credited with starting first CIT program in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio –Defendants could escape the death penalty if they suffer from schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and delusional disorder during the time of the crime, under a bill passed Wednesday in the Ohio House.
Ohio criminal law allows people to be found not guilty by reason of insanity. People can also be found incompetent to stand trial. HB 136 would apply when a person is too impaired to “exercise rational judgment” to conform to the law or appreciate the nature, consequences or wrongness of their conduct.
People can receive death sentences in Ohio if they’re convicted of aggravated murder.
Under HB 136, if a defendant’s “serious mental illness” at the time of the aggravated murder is challenged, the court can order an evaluation. If the person is ultimately found guilty of aggravated murder, they would be ineligible for the death penalty, assuming the evaluation showed they were seriously mentally ill during the crime.
Instead, the person would be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Rep. Brett Hudson Hillyer, a Republican from Tuscarawas County and an attorney, is sponsoring the bill. He said that the legislation is the result of a 2014 task force that reviewed the state’s administration of the death penalty. He said HB 136 was drafted in consultation with former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.
Two U.S. Supreme Court cases found that juveniles and impaired people could be not executed due to “diminished mental capacity.” Hillyer said that serious mental illnesses diminish people’s capacity.
Hillyer said that Ohio law has a similar exception of the death penalty for juveniles and developmentally disabled people.
“This bill isn’t about guilt or innocence,” he said. “You can still be found guilty of the capital offense of aggravated murder.”
The bill is retroactive. People on death row can seek an evaluation about their mental health and have their sentence reduced to life without parole. It’s not immediately clear how much that will cost the state. Capital cases exceed the cost of life imprisonment cases of up to $1 million to $3 million per case, due to legal appeals required before the state executes someone. But a legislative fiscal analysis also evaluations will cost public defenders, county prosecutors and possibly the county sheriffs more money in paperwork and court motions.
There are 142 people on death row in Ohio.
The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association opposed the bill for the past four years as overly broad. People with mental illness or developmental disabilities can already avoid the death penalty, and HB 136 is just for people “whose mental illness is so weak that they were unable to create reasonable doubt in the mind of even one single juror” that they were not guilty by reason of insanity, said the organization’s Executive Eirector Louis Tobin.
Ohio executions are on hold for now, as Gov. Mike DeWine and officials in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction search for a new means to administer the death penalty. A federal magistrate in January ruled the old method of a three-drug cocktail was unconstitutional.
HB 136 now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.
Ohio Governor John Kasich wants a game plan from the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations by April 30 describing actions that can be taken to help ensure that minorities “feel safe and that they are not being targeted.”
Collaborating with black lawmakers, Kasich announced the task force last month after police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland who had an air pistol and a man in Beavercreek who was carrying a pellet rifle taken off a shelf inside a Wal-Mart.
The task force will be led by Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born. Former State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, will serve as co-chairwoman. The task force will conduct public hearings to solicit the views of Ohioans.
Former U.S. Sen. and Gov. George V. Voinovich; former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, D-Cleveland; and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton will serve as honorary co-chairs.
The panel includes lawmakers, police officers, clergy, criminal-justice experts and other community leaders, including some with ties to the NAACP and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
14 JAN 2015 – The courtroom was standing room-only this afternoon as Ohio Supreme Court Justices Sharon L. Kennedy and Judith L. French took their ceremonial oaths of office for their six-year terms. Former Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, who French replaced by appointment in December 2012, emceed the ceremony.