Ohio Pardon and Parole Laws


Pardon, Commutation, Medical Release, or Reprieve

Pursuant to Ohio statutes under ORC Ann. 2967, the adult parole authority may exercise its functions and duties in relation to the pardon, commutation of sentence, or reprieve of a convict upon direction of the governor or upon its own initiative.  It may exercise its functions and duties in relation to the parole of a prisoner who is eligible for parole upon the initiative of the head of the institution in which the prisoner is confined or upon its own initiative.  When a prisoner becomes eligible for parole, the head of the institution in which the prisoner is confined must notify the authority in the manner prescribed by the authority.  The authority may investigate and examine, or cause the investigation and examination of, prisoners confined in state correctional institutions concerning their conduct in the institutions, their mental and moral qualities and characteristics, their knowledge of a trade or profession, their former means of livelihood, their family relationships, and any other matters affecting their fitness to be at liberty without being a threat to society.

The Ohio law provides that the authority may recommend to the governor the pardon, commutation of sentence, medical release, or reprieve of any convict or prisoner or grant a parole to any prisoner for whom parole is authorized, if in its judgment there is reasonable ground to believe that granting a pardon, commutation, medical release, or reprieve to the convict or paroling the prisoner would further the interests of justice and be consistent with the welfare and security of society.  However, the authority must not recommend a pardon, commutation of sentence, or medical release of, or grant a parole to, any convict or prisoner until the authority has complied with the applicable notice requirements of sections 2930.16 and 2967.12 of the Revised Code and until it has considered any statement made by a victim or a victim’s representative that is relevant to the convict’s or prisoner’s case and that was sent to the authority pursuant to section 2930.17 of the Revised Code, any other statement made by a victim or a victim’s representative that is relevant to the convict’s or prisoner’s case and that was received by the authority after it provided notice of the pendency of the action under sections 2930.16 and 2967.12 of the Revised Code, and any written statement of any person submitted to the court pursuant to division (G) of section 2967.12 of the Revised Code.  If a victim, victim’s representative, or the victim’s spouse, parent, sibling, or child appears at a full board hearing of the parole board and gives testimony as authorized by section 5149.101 [5149.10.1] of the Revised Code, the authority must consider the testimony in determining whether to grant a parole.

Furthermore, the trial judge and prosecuting attorney of the trial court in which a person was convicted must furnish to the authority, at the request of the authority, a summarized statement of the facts proved at the trial and of all other facts having reference to the propriety of recommending a pardon, commutation, or medical release, or granting a parole, together with a recommendation for or against a pardon, commutation, medical release, or parole, and the reasons for the recommendation.  The trial judge, the prosecuting attorney, specified law enforcement agency members, and a representative of the prisoner may appear at a full board hearing of the parole board and give testimony in regard to the grant of a parole to the prisoner as authorized by section 5149.101 [5149.10.1] of the Revised Code.  All state and local officials must furnish information to the authority, when so requested by it in the performance of its duties.  The adult parole authority must exercise its functions and duties in relation to the release of prisoners who are serving a stated prison term in accordance with section 2967.28 of the Revised Code[i].

A pardon or commutation may be granted upon such conditions precedent or subsequent as the governor may impose, which conditions must be stated in the warrant.  Such pardon or commutation must not take effect until the conditions so imposed are accepted by the convict or prisoner so pardoned or having his or her sentence commuted, and acceptance is indorsed upon the warrant, signed by him or her, and attested by one witness.  Such witness must go before the clerk of the court of common pleas in whose office the sentence is recorded and prove the signature of the convict.  The clerk must thereupon record the warrant, indorsement, and proof in the journal of the court, which record, or a duly certified transcript thereof, must be evidence of such pardon or commutation, the conditions thereof, and the acceptance of the conditions.  An unconditional pardon relieves the person to whom it is granted of all disabilities arising out of the conviction or convictions from which it is granted[ii].

Parole Eligibility

The Ohio statutes provide that a prisoner serving a sentence of imprisonment for life for an offense committed on or after July 1, 1996, is not entitled to any earned credit under section 2967.193 [2967.19.3] of the Revised Code and becomes eligible for parole as follows:

(1) If a sentence of imprisonment for life was imposed for the offense of murder, at the expiration of the prisoner’s minimum term;

(2) If a sentence of imprisonment for life with parole eligibility after serving twenty years of imprisonment was imposed pursuant to section 2929.022 [2929.02.2] or 2929.03 of the Revised Code, after serving a term of twenty years;

(3) If a sentence of imprisonment for life with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years of imprisonment was imposed pursuant to section 2929.022 [2929.02.2] or 2929.03 of the Revised Code, after serving a term of twenty-five full years;

(4) If a sentence of imprisonment for life with parole eligibility after serving thirty full years of imprisonment was imposed pursuant to section 2929.022 [2929.02.2] or 2929.03 of the Revised Code, after serving a term of thirty full years;

(5) If a sentence of imprisonment for life was imposed for rape, after serving a term of ten full years’ imprisonment;

(6) If a sentence of imprisonment for life with parole eligibility after serving fifteen years of imprisonment was imposed for a violation of section 2927.24 of the Revised Code, after serving a term of fifteen years.

Pursuant to section 2929.022 [2929.02.2] or 2929.03 of the Revised Code, a prisoner serving a sentence of imprisonment for life with parole eligibility after serving twenty years of imprisonment or a sentence of imprisonment for life with parole eligibility after serving twenty-five full years or thirty full years of imprisonment imposed for an offense committed on or after July 1, 1996, consecutively to any other term of imprisonment, becomes eligible for parole after serving twenty years, twenty full years, or thirty full years, as applicable, as to each such sentence of life imprisonment, which must not be reduced for earned credits under section 2967.193 [2967.19.3] of the Revised Code, plus the term or terms of the other sentences consecutively imposed or, if one of the other sentences is another type of life sentence with parole eligibility, the number of years before parole eligibility for that sentence.

Moreover, a prisoner serving consecutively two or more sentences in which an indefinite term of imprisonment is imposed becomes eligible for parole upon the expiration of the aggregate of the minimum terms of the sentences.  A prisoner serving a term of imprisonment becomes eligible for parole as described in that division or, if the prisoner is serving a definite term of imprisonment, must be released as described in that division.  A prisoner serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole imposed pursuant to section 2907.02 or section 2929.03 or 2929.06 of the Revised Code is not eligible for parole and must be imprisoned until death.  A prisoner serving a stated prison term must be released in accordance with section 2967.28 of the Revised Code.  A prisoner serving a prison term or term of life imprisonment without parole imposed pursuant to section 2971.03 of the Revised Code never becomes eligible for parole during that term of imprisonment[iii].

Arrest of Parolee or Other Releasee for Violation

Pursuant to the Ohio law, if an adult parole authority field officer has reasonable cause to believe that a person who is a parolee or releasee, who is under transitional control, or who is under another form of authorized release and who is under the supervision of the adult parole authority has violated or is violating the condition of a conditional pardon, parole, other form of authorized release, transitional control, or post-release control or any other term or condition of the person’s conditional pardon, parole, other form of authorized release, transitional control, or post-release control, the field officer may arrest the person without a warrant or order a peace officer to arrest the person without a warrant.  A person so arrested must be confined in the jail of the county in which the person is arrested or in another facility designated by the chief of the adult parole authority until a determination is made regarding the person’s release status.  Upon making an arrest under this section, the arresting or supervising adult parole authority field officer promptly must notify the superintendent of parole supervision or the superintendent’s designee, in writing, that the person has been arrested and is in custody and submit an appropriate report of the reason for the arrest.

However, prior to the revocation by the adult parole authority of a person’s pardon, parole, or other release and prior to the imposition by the parole board or adult parole authority of a new prison term as a post-release control sanction for a person, the adult parole authority must grant the person a hearing in accordance with rules adopted by the department of rehabilitation and correction under Chapter 119 of the Revised Code.  The adult parole authority is not required to grant the person a hearing if the person is convicted of or pleads guilty to an offense that the person committed while released on a pardon, on parole, or another form of release, or on post-release control and upon which the revocation of the person’s pardon, parole, other release, or post-release control is based.

Furthermore, if a person who has been pardoned is found to be a violator of the conditions of the parolee’s conditional pardon or commutation of sentence, the authority forthwith must transmit to the governor its recommendation concerning that violation, and the violator must be retained in custody until the governor issues an order concerning that violation.  If the authority fails to make a determination of the case of a parolee or releasee alleged to be a violator of the terms and conditions of the parolee’s or releasee’s conditional pardon, parole, other release, or post-release control sanctions within a reasonable time, the parolee or releasee must be released from custody under the same terms and conditions of the parolee’s or releasee’s original conditional pardon, parole, other release, or post-release control sanctions.

The Ohio statutes further provide that if a person who is a parolee or releasee, who is under transitional control, or who is under another form of authorized release under the supervision of the adult parole authority absconds from supervision, the supervising adult parole authority field officer must report that fact to the superintendent of parole supervision, in writing, and the authority must declare that person to be a violator at large.  Upon being advised of the apprehension and availability for return of a violator at large, the superintendent of parole supervision must determine whether the violator at large should be restored to parole, transitional control, another form of authorized release, or post-release control.  The time between the date on which a person who is a parolee or other releasee is declared to be a violator or violator at large and the date on which that person is returned to custody in the state of Ohio under the immediate control of the adult parole authority must not be counted as time served under the sentence imposed on that person or as a part of the term of post-release control.  A person who is under transitional control or who is under any form of authorized release under the supervision of the adult parole authority is considered to be in custody while under the transitional control or on release, and, if the person absconds from supervision, the person may be prosecuted for the offense of escape.

However, a person who is a parolee or releasee, who is under transitional control, or who is under another form of authorized release under the supervision of the adult parole authority and who has violated a term or condition of the person’s conditional pardon, parole, transitional control, other form of authorized release, or post-release control must be declared to be a violator if the person is committed to a correctional institution outside the state to serve a sentence imposed upon the person by a federal court or a court of another state or if the person otherwise leaves the state[iv].

Ohio Pardon and Parole Laws

[i] ORC Ann. 2967.03.

[ii] ORC Ann. 2967.04.

[iii] ORC Ann. 2967.13.

[iv] ORC Ann. 2967.15.