Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently urged state judges to consider granting early release for some inmates who are at an increased risk for contracting the coronavirus. The Governor recommended that inmates who are elderly, pregnant or who have high risk health factors, and who are serving the final 90 days of their sentence, be released from prison under home confinement. The Governor was clear that this recommendation would not apply to those serving sentences for violent offenses, sex offenses or to those who had previously served a prison term. However, we must remember that this was merely a recommendation to judges across the state. It is not binding on them. Inmates still need to apply for judicial release with their sentencing judge, and cite risk factors such as age, medical condition, or placement at an institution with a lot of COVID-19 cases. The Governor does have the power of clemency to release inmates early. But please understand, the chances of actually getting clemency are extremely small. The Governor was reviewing only 167 inmates, of the nearly 49,000 inmates in the Ohio prison system, for clemency. A better option for most inmates is to file for judicial release, and to cite risk factors that make continued incarceration dangerous for them.
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