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Government & Politics

State is Sued for Repeatedly Denying Parole to a Certain Category of Inmates

Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
A gavel sculpture sits outside of the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus. A lawsuit filed on behalf of two inmates who have served more than 40 years in prison says the Ohio Parole Board has not given the inmates fair hearings.

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 says 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 says 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.

You can read the lawsuit here.
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