If you sometimes wonder how some criminals seem to be back on the street in no time at all, a new law in Ohio could alleviate that perception. Senate Bill 97, known as the Violent Career Criminal Act, was signed into law this past week by Ohio Governor John Kasich
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today praised the new law that increases prison time for violent offenders who repeatedly commit crimes in Ohio.
The new law now classifies anyone who has committed two or more violent felony offenses as a violent career criminal. If a violent career criminal is convicted of committing an additional violent felony offense while using a firearm, the new law now requires that offender to be sentenced to a mandatory two to 11 years in prison in addition to the sentence for the underlying crime. The law also enhances gun specification penalties by 50 percent.
Scioto County Prosecutor mark Kuhn serves on the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association Committee
“I looked over the draft bill when it was in committee, proposed by the attorney general,” Kuhn told the Daily Times in an exclusive interview. “Basically it means that people that commit violent felonies with firearms, it increases the punishment for those who have had two or more felony offenses of violence.”
Kuhn said the law is similar to a charge his office issues from time to time titled – “repeat violent offender.”
“It’s the kind of a thing you probably will not see very often in the list of grand jury indictments,” Kuhn said. “It is something that probably will come up from time to time.”
Statistics show that less than one percent of people commit 57 percent of the felony offenses of violence. The Violent Career Criminal Act was sponsored by Senators Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) and Frank LaRose (R-Copley). The bill was drafted after a study commissioned by Attorney General DeWine’s Violent Crimes with Guns Advisory Group
“The ultimate goal of this law is to protect Ohio families and reduce crime across the state. I hope that the threat of additional prison time will make offenders think twice about committing another violent crime, and those who do will pay the price,” DeWine said.
The study, which was based on 1974-2010 data from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Bureau of Criminal Investigation and conducted by Ohio State University researcher Deanna Wilkinson, Ph.D, also found that nearly 56 percent of all of Ohio’s violent felony convictions happened in Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Summit, and Franklin counties. Those counties, along with Montgomery, Stark, Lucas, Lorain, Butler, Lake, Clark, and Mahoning.
“I feel pretty good about it. It’s something I personally supported,” Kuhn said. “The idea being that we concentrate the state’s efforts on crime on those who commit violent felonies and are repeat offenders. They don’t get the same sentencing range that they get when they use a firearm to commit an offense, as they would if they were a first offender. It means potentially more severe punishment.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.