Billboard Campaign

Raising money for a billboard that seeks justice for Ohio prisoners harmed by a 1996 sentencing law.

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The Pitch

The growing national consensus that our criminal justice system is broken has not yet led to much action in Ohio. The problems are pervasive and overwhelming. But fixing one part of a broken system can begin a larger transformation.

We propose to call attention to an unjust sentencing disparity that has influenced the lives of Ohio inmates since a flawed law was passed in 1996.

Rather than organizing a petition drive or a protest march, we seek to lease a billboard. The billboard we propose for beginning this process of reform is right in front of the Parole Board office on Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio! And the Parole Board enforces the unjust sentencing law we want to fix.

billboard-location

We want to make sure the employees going to and from work see our message every day. We also want people going to the Parole Board for hearings to learn about our campaign and get involved.

We plan to put up many more billboards around Ohio (funds permitting) and produce a documentary highlighting the Old-Law Prisoner situation in Ohio’s prisons.

Clearly, as the passage of time has shown, Ohio’s legislators don’t care that a small percentage of Ohio prisoners are being made to serve longer prison sentences than other prisoners who committed the same crimes. As it appears, the only way that Ohio’s legislators are going to address and rectify the excessive and arbitrary punishing of Ohio’s old-law prisoners is if they’re held accountable by a demanding public. For, as the great Frederick Douglas once said, “power concedes nothing without a demand,” and through the leasing of the sought billboard all concerned citizens can make a collective demand for reformative justice on behalf of Ohio’s old-law prisoners.

We need YOUR help to make this a reality. Every dollar counts, so if you have a few to spare, please consider donating to our campaign now!

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Why Are We Doing This?

The unjust discrepancy created by Ohio S.B. 2’s requirement that prisoners sentenced before July 1, 1996, have the length of their sentences periodically reviewed and then determined by the Parole Board was made worse by the Parole Board itself in 2010. At that time the Board decided to stop using their guidelines after concluding that most of the remaining “old-law” prison population were “serving sentences for crimes that have unique factors that thwart any effort to generalize a suggested range of time or specify common risk factors.” The result has been a pattern of arbitrarily lengthened sentences.

We want to put up this billboard to raise awareness of this issue for those who may be driving by and/or going into the Ohio Parole Board office. At a time when calls for the reforming of the U.S. criminal justice system are being echoed nationwide, we hope that those folks will want to support a broader campaign to end the current discriminatory practice of over-incarcerating old-law offenders, such as Jason Goudlock (see below), simply because they committed their crimes prior to the implemention of the July 1,1996, less punitive new-law guidelines.

We call on Governor Kasich, Senator Bill Seitz, Senator Nina Turner, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor (Chair of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission), Judge Spanagel (Chair of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission Sentencing Committee), and DRC Director Gary Mohr to make the following changes:

(1) Issue guidelines that would prevent the Parole Board from issuing sentence continuances to any parole-eligible old-law prisoner’s sentence that would exceed the maximum sentencing range of the equivalent current new-law sentencing range.

(2) Release all old-law prisoners who have already served a prison sentence that has exceeded the maximum sentence of the equivalent current new-law sentencing range.

(2) Issue mandatory projected release dates for all parole-eligible prisoners who have had two or more release consideration hearings.

Jason William Goudlock is an Ohio Old-Law prisoner who has been confined since November 1993, as a first-time offender, due to having committed the criminal offenses of aggravated robbery and felonious assault. Ohio Prisoner Advocacy was created after many years of supporting Jason in order to call attention to an unjust sentencing discrepancy caused by S.B. 2, legislation passed by the Ohio legislature in 1996. Learn more about Jason at FreeJasonGoudlock.org.

As an old-law prisoner, Jason is serving a longer prison sentence in comparison to prisoners who were sentenced for the same crimes after July 1, 1996.

When Jason is forced to defend himself physically, this counts against him in the eyes of the Parole Board thereby potentially lengthening his sentence. Meanwhile, the other prisoner’s sentence, often a “new-law” prisoner, remains unchanged.

When Jason is asked to carry out an illegal task within the prison or suffer harassment and physical attacks if he doesn’t, he’s put into a lose-lose situation where any decision he makes to keep himself safe hurts him in the eyes of the Parole Board and potentially lengthens his sentence. Since the “new-law” prisoners’ sentences are definite, they can take more risks and force Jason (and other old-law prisoners) into precarious, lose-lose situations.

Prison authorities also have more power over old-law prisoners. Jason describes one particularly egregious situation on his website involving a prison warden, a cover-up over the warden’s motorcycle damaging a prison elevator, and the parole board.

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Who’s Involved?

Ohio Prisoner Advocacy (OPA) is a group of prisoner rights activists who focus on reforming Ohio’s prison system. Some of our members have been involved in prison reform and prisoner support for many years. OPA is brand new and we’re hoping to end the old-law / new-law inequality as soon as possible.

William Nichols is a retired college professor who works with Ohio Prisoner Advocacy. He taught for more than thirty years at Denison University in Ohio. After retiring, he taught writing part-time for six years at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where he lives now. In Ohio, he served on the Ohio Criminal Justice Committee for the American Friends Service Committee. He has written about isolation as torture in the Friends Journal, and published essays in American Scholar, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, and Orion. His novel Fleeing Ohio tells the story of Daniel Caputo, an improbable inmate in a high maximum-security prison, a “supermax,” in Ohio. His other books include York’s Journal: A Novel and Finding Fox Creek: An Oregon Pilgrimage. His interest in Ohio Prisoner Advocacy developed from years of corresponding with prisoners in the Ohio State Penitentiary, especially Jason Goudlock.

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Specifics of the Campaign

Here are the specifics of the campaign:

  • We have a fiscal sponsor, Social Good Fund (Email mdpace@socialgoodfund.org for more info), who will manage all funds raised and guarantee that the funds are used for the purposes stated below.
  • Total cost of this project is $4,170:
  • Upon reaching the fundraising goal, 100% of the funds (minus provider processing fees listed above) will be used to rent Clear Channel Outdoor billboard number 065775, located on Broad St. in Columbus, OH, directly East of the Ohio Parole Board office building. This location is ideal; however, because it’s not possible to reserve the billboard before we’ve paid, we may have to lease a billboard in another location.
  • We’re hoping to have the billboard run from July 25 – August 25; however due to the fluctuating nature of advertising space, these dates may change.
  • The contracting company for the billboard design, installation, and lease is Clear Channel Outdoor. In the event that the Broad St. billboard listed above is not available within a reasonable amount of time after the campaign has ended, we may use a different company for the design, installation and lease of the billboard.
  • This is a Flexible Funding campaign so if we don’t reach the fundraising goal, funds raised will remain in the care of Social Good Fund and we will attempt to find a different billboard we can lease for the amount raised. If that’s not possible, we’ll use what we’ve raised to help cover costs related to the documentary.
  • If we do reach the fundraising goal, leftover funds beyond the cost of the billboard and processing fees listed above will remain in the care of Social Good Fund until they can be used for the documentary and/or other outreach efforts on behalf of Ohio’s Old-Law Prisoners.

The Message

Participate in the planning and discussion of the message here: https://billboard.freejasongoudlock.org How would you revise the message suggested near the end of the video?

Other Ways You Can Help

  • Like on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, Share this campaign with others, etc…
  • Send Jason Goudlock a letter, offering your support and assistance:
    Jason William Goudlock
    #284-561
    P.O.Box 7010
    Chillicothe, OH 45601
  • Go to the following link for more ways to support Jason and other Old-Law prisoners: https://freejasongoudlock.org/how-to-help/

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