COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio House of Representatives continues to push the Reagan Tokes Act through the legislative process, giving the measure its fourth hearing Tuesday.
Reagan Tokes was an Ohio State University student who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in February 2017. The man accused of the crimes, Brian Golsby was out on parole equipped with an ankle monitor at the time of Tokes death and he is currently awaiting trial.
Tuesday, anyone who wanted to testify on the House Bill had the opportunity to do so. The previous two hearings were for supporters and opponents of the bill respectively.
Tuesday, William Parker of American Court Services testified in support of the bill. Parker is an expert in GPS monitoring and he took the opportunity to educate committee members on how the business works, while clarifying common misconceptions they may have had.
“There is a widespread belief that some authority is continuously watching the whereabouts and movements of a defendant wearing a GPS ankle monitor,” said Parker. He says that is just not the case.
And there is no a central hub where people stare at monitor screens all day long watching dots moving around the streets; this isn’t a television show or the movies.
Depending on the individual, the agency who wants to monitor them can place a number of different restrictions on their movements.
Some low-threat individuals have little to no restrictions; this is called “tracking” and the device simply logs where they go and when.
Other individuals are more heavily restricted either by time of day and with areas they must stay inside or are not allowed to enter.
Parker says the problem is there is no uniformity to how GPS monitoring is being used.
The agencies responsible for the supervision of the individual determine when they want to be contacted by the monitoring company for different types of infractions.
In some cases, the company may be instructed by the agency to delay notification of a curfew violation until business hours the next day; whereas an automatic alert is sent to the agency regardless of time of day or night, when the individual enters an area they are not allowed to be in.
In those instances, Parker says, what happens next is up to the agency and not the monitoring company; and he says they have seen all kinds of responses from immediate to delayed action.
One thing Parker did make clear was there is no way for monitoring companies to know if an individual could be out committing a crime in the middle of the night, if the agency doesn’t put a curfew restriction in place.
Likewise, the monitoring company will not be alerted to the fact that the individual is not where they are supposed to be, if inclusionary zone (locations they are allowed to be like home, work, and school) restrictions are not put in place.
And you guessed it, the monitoring company will not be alerted if an individual enters an area they’re not supposed to be, if exclusionary zone (locations they are not allowed to be) restrictions are not put in place.
The Reagan Tokes Act addresses some of that, but not all.
The sponsors of the bill, Representatives Kristin Boggs and Jim Hughes, say the bill does need a little tweaking; but as of right now, Boggs and Hughes are pleased with the speed things are moving along. Boggs says it is helpful that the chairman of the committee has made this bill a priority, and has given the bill the number of hearings it has had.
Those hearings have identified areas the bill needs to improve in. After hearing from prosecutors that don’t want early release in the bill, and public defenders who don’t want indefinite sentences, they say there is wiggle room to negotiate to a place that both groups can get some of what they want; enough to potentially get them to move from opposing the bill to a neutral stance.
According to Boggs, amendments to the bill are being hammered out and they hope to have them ready to go by early January. Hughes says whatever adjustments they make to the House Bill version of the legislation they will insist the Senate Bill version likewise adopt.