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Lawsuit Says Ohio Policy Denies Parole For Former Death Row Inmates

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press

A lawsuit claims that Ohio has an unwritten policy of denying release to death row inmates who were re-sentenced after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Ohio’s death penalty in 1978.

The Ohio Justice and Policy Center and the ACLU of Ohio have filed suit for Patricia Wernert and George Clayton, who were resentenced after the 1978 ruling to 20 years to life with a chance at parole. They’ve both been in prison for more than 40 years and been repeatedly denied parole. 

The ACLU of Ohio’s Legal Director, David Carey, said Wernert and Clayton haven’t gotten fair hearings. 

“The Ohio Parole Board has an automatic rule of denying people in this category. Essentially if you haven’t gotten paroled by now and you are in this category of people who was re-sentenced after 1978, then you are not going to get paroled," Carey said.

Carey said the board’s unwritten policy basically converts their sentences into life without the possibility of parole. It asks the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to give inmates in this category new parole hearings.

The lawsuit named the parole board and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Neither the board nor the corrections agency comments on pending litigation, a spokesperson told the Associated Press.

You can read the lawsuit here
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.