Judge Throws Out Major Reform of Violent Offender Sentencing Law Named for Murdered Ohio State Student Reagan Tokes


A state law passed this year that allows the parole board to extend the sentences of major felony cases was ruled unconstitutional.

Common Pleas Judge Tom Heekin found that the Reagan Tokes Act violates the Ohio constitution, in a ruling filed November 20 in a felony assault case, Cincinnati.com reported. Heekin’s reasoning is that the law violates the separation of powers and may deny a felon adequate due process. Prosecutors are expected to appeal.

The law, “Enact Reagan Tokes Act-indefinite prison terms/GPS monitoring,” was named after Reagan Tokes, an Ohio State University student who was murdered, WBNS reported. A portion of the legislation was passed in December 2018 and another portion of the bill was reintroduced this past spring and approved.

The 2018 portion changed how violent offenders are sentenced by permitting judges to set a range of years for a sentence rather than a set period. Tokes’ killer, Brian Golsby, racked up 52 infractions while in prison and showed little to no signs of being rehabilitated, corrections officials admitted, according to WBNS.

Golsby, then 29, was arrested in February 2017 and charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery in Tokes’ slaying, WCPO reported. Tokes was a 21-year-old senior who was shot to death after leaving work. Her body was found near the entrance to Scioto Grove Metro Park.

Golsby had been released from prison three months prior to Tokes’ murder, The Ohio Star said. He was on parole but was not placed into a halfway house because of his status as a sex offender.

According to the Ohio Legislature’s website, the new version from this past year aimed to increase GPS monitoring of released felons and reduce the caseloads for parole officers.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199, representing parole officers, published online ads in August supporting passage of the bill, The Ohio Star reported.

State Sen. Sean J. O’Brien (D-OH-32) sponsored both versions of the bill. When he reintroduced the legislation in April, he said:

“Our bill reforms GPS monitoring procedures and post-release controls to ensure that the actions and movements of felons are monitored more closely after their release from prison,” said O’Brien. “This will decrease the chances that a heinous crime, like the one committed against Reagan Tokes, would happen again.”

The new version of the bill required the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) to create a reentry program for violent and dangerous felons who are released from prison and have been rejected by private reentry programs, O’Brien said. Also, it created inclusionary and exclusionary restrictions, locations where the offender must be and is not allowed to be during certain hours. Parole officers received authority to gain easier access to crime databases so they could check whether any crimes were committed in the inclusionary and exclusionary zones of the offenders they are monitoring.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.






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