The exigency of notice to citizens on this issue is momentously significant. The Ohio Adult Parole Authority is exacting incalculable harm to the communities of Ohio.
In support of this assertion, I submit the following for your consideration.
There has been a recent significant decrease in paroles in Ohio, that is 54.4% in 1990 to 19.1% in 1997. This may seem advantageous at first blush, due to the media's focus on criminal activity, and the rightful outrage at some crimes committed to the detriment of our communities and its members. Nevertheless, this focus on some actions of former incarcerated persons does not truly depict the actions of all prisoners who are released. The media raarely focuses on prisoners who get out and live law abiding, productive, lives. In consideration of both sides, a very palpable situation exists that you should consider.
For example, if a prisoner has addressed those issues that brought him/her to prison, through education and programs, and he/she has an excellent insstitutional record, there is no legitimate reason to continue to confine the prisoner. Moral wrath should not be used to create prolonged severity because it defeats the goals of society, and society is given only ephemeral protection, unless correctional methods leave prisoners in a position to return to society in a productive and responsible way. Purposeless severity results in prisoners losing identity as a father, son, daughter, sister, brother, and mother, and identity to the community to which he/she will eventually return. Most prisoners someday will be released. This unjustified severity in punishment, created by only one small group of people, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, teaches prisoners that human beings have little intrinsic value, and that human dignity has little significance. It sends the message that retribution is proper. Prisoners, who will be returned eventually to your communities, will be without hope, and angry because of purposeless and irrational continued incarceration. This will be a reason, for some who lack rational intellect, to commit acts of outrage that will create new victims. This is sad, because it harms the communtiy, based upon the irrational decisions made by the members of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.
The question is -- "Do you community members want prisoners held, after demonstrable rehabilitative changes, for no reason, but the arrogance of the Ohio Adult Parole Authority?" This creates prisons, prison jobs, and secures a future for the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, following the decrease in authority of their office with Senate Bill 2, for those prisoners convicted after July 1, 1996. However, it is at your expense, because your taxes fund such actions. While the prison budget proliferated to over one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in Ohio this year, your children were left with schools that lack supplies, secure buildings, and technology necessary to bring them into the 21st century.
The sad part about this situation is that the parole board can, at this time, grant or deny parole for any reason, or no reason at all. The members could have a bad day, and that will cause someone to serve many years beyond all possible rehabilitation, simply based upon the attitude of the members. Not even the President of the United States has this type of authority over human beings. Yet, the State of Ohio has entrusted human lives to a group of people who fail to consider community interests. Moreover, your tax dollars are at the mercy of such people, because you are funding this madness.
The parole officials retaliate against prisoners who sue prison officials for better conditions, for fair and humane treatment, and other legitimate grievances. I know, for I have been held in prison far beyond my demonstrated rehabilitation for such efforts. Terrance W. Hattie, William C. Foster, LeMont Blair, Thomas Thrower, among others, have been treated in like manner. Cases are pending in federal court to deal with this problem. Why not retaliate against prisoners? The answer is simple: When prisoners start working within the established system to resolve problems, it demonstrates significant efforts towards rehabilitation, because prisoners are using a process established by our country to address unconstitutional behavior of prison official. Yes! Prison officials do commit wrongs against other human beings -- prisoners -- that would be considered a crime in society, but are ignored under the color of law of their positions. Why should state officials be permitted to commit these acts against other human beings without redress? Is this the function that you want your government involved in? Remember...today it is prisoners; tomorrow, it will move to the poor, and up the line. You have to be willing to support the human rights of others, or you sacrifice your own security and safety from abusive government officials.
The only administrative body in Ohio that has no review is the Ohio Adult Parole Authority which is now setting community standards of criminal punishment by its excessive and abusive conduct. For example, an inmate was held in prison for 10 years for stealing three cartons of cigarettes, at your tax-dollar costs in excess of $340,000. Why were his confinement costs so much higher than the average cost per inmate? This inmate was severely handicapped and needed special medical needs. I think anyone would wonder why $30 worth of cigarettes should result in such high costs to tax-payers. There are many more prisoners with similar plights.
Now that you are informed you can take advantage of this opportunity to get involved. Go to the Federal Court House in Cleveland, and ask to see Foster v. Ghee, et al., Case No. 1:96 CV 2049. Then sit back and ask yourself why one administrative body has so much power to effect many lives, families, prisoners, and how your tax-dollars are spent. You really need to ask your representatives how such a board has this much power to make decisions that are not reviewable by anyone. Also, review Gumpl v. Ghee, Case No. 1:94 CV 2314, in the same Court House, which was settled, and see the type of abusive conduct that is perpetuated and perpetrated with your tax-dollars. By the way...your tax dollars pay the wages for all members of the Ohio Parole Board.
If you have any comments or input, I can be reached at Steve Gumpl, #180-802 G.C.I. A2, 2500 South Avon Belden Road, Grafton OH 44044. Without the community taking an active role in this struggle...we all suffer.