COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sweeping criminal justice reform was signed into law by Gov. DeWine in January. Senate Bill 288, is nearly 500-pages long. This legislation looks to modify the crimes and corrections law in Ohio. 

What You Need To Know

  • Senate Bill 288 was signed into law in January 

  • This law has made strangulation illegal in Ohio 

  • Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law organized a panel bringing together criminal justice experts across Ohio to discuss Senate bill 288. 

  • Each person who spoke on the panel highlighted what they appreciated about the bill and what could use work. 

Senate Bill 288 will make it easier to expunge a criminal record and shorten prison sentences. The law will also expand expungement provisions to increase the maximum amount of earned credit for prisoners. 

Criminal justice experts spoke about Senate Bill 288 at a panel discussion hosted by Ohio State University's Drug Enforcement and Policy Center under their Moritz College of Law. 

Criminal justice experts said one of the key aspects of the law is that it makes strangulation illegal in Ohio. Prosecutors said, previously, Ohio was one of the few states where it wasn't illegal. 

"Ohio was one of only two or maybe the last state without a standalone strangulation offense," said Louis Tobin, Executive Drector of Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. "So really, prosecutors were stuck with a choice between prosecuting strangulation as misdemeanor domestic violence." 

Senate Bill 288 tweaks many parts of the criminal code, and tackles both the state's court and incarceration system.

Jocelyn Rosnick, the Policy Director of ACLU Ohio, said Senate Bill 288 revised Ohio's Good Samaritan Law.

"It added protections for possession of drug abuse instruments and drug paraphernalia," Rosnick said. "So those are two really critical updates and some very good expansions on good samaritan law through 288. The second thing that the ACLU is really excited about are the significant changes to Ohio's earned credit program. Earned credit is just a fancy phrase for essentially allowing incarcerated people to shave time off of their prison sentence if they participate or complete different types of educational substance abuse and other programming." 

However, many of these criminal justice experts believe work still needs to be done. Prosecutors said they have an issue with the record sealing portion of this law.

The prosecutors brought up recidivism, which is the tendency of a criminal to re-offend. The law also looks to help get records sealed but prosecutors said sealing their record is not the same thing as getting it expunged. 

"We'll certainly be taking a look at anything in SB 288 that the commission wants us to look at and analyze the impacts," Alex Jones, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission said. "The better the information that the commission has about the impacts of legislation like SB 288 in terms of recidivism and otherwise, the better the commission in ensuring that the people of Ohio are getting the benefit of a criminal justice bargain." 

Senator Nathan Manning told the panel that they need to closely examine Senate Bill 288 and how it's being used to see if this law is effective. 

The criminal justice experts said there are positives to the law, however, some language change could eventually be needed.