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Commentary on Assistant State Public Defender’s Letter to Parole Board

“What the Parole Board
is now doing to me
is nothing less than an
act of torture.”

On June 19, 2014, Ohio Assistant State Public Defender Kenneth R. Spiert mailed the below letter to the Ohio Parole Board, in which he requested (for the second time) that they correct their incorrect record of the amount of Jail Time Credit that they have me recorded for having earned towards the total amount of time that I’ve been imprisoned. Based on the cited miscalculation, Mr. Spiert also requested that the Parole Board Modify the date of my upcoming Parole Board hering, so that it could be held sooner than the currently scheduled date of December 2014, which is actually October 2014, because all hearings are conducted two months early.

The Parole Board, however, has so blatantly ignored my right to be afforded a “meaningful” Parole Board hearing, as established by Ohio’s Supreme Court, that it’s impossible for them to now correct their wrongdoing, and here’s why:

As it appears, according to the DOTS records printed on the below letter, I should be credited with 235 days of Jail Time Credit. Well, if the Parole Board were to credit me with the 235 days of Jail Time Credit that I’m owed, counting back from December of this year (the current date that I’m scheduled to appear before the Parole Board), that would give me a new Parole Board hearing date of April 2014. It’s currently August 2014, which means that the Jail Time Credit has officially been disregarded, and that the Parole Board has illegally re-sentenced me by way of operating as a de facto branch of government. If this is not proof that the parole Board is out-of-control, then what is?

As I’ve never denied, I committed crimes that I deserve to be punished for. But after having served over 20 years for my convictions of aggravated robbery and felonious assault, I’ve served my time. What the Parole Board is now doing to me is nothing less than an act of torture. They have deliberately walked off the path of justice and equality, and right now, I need your support to help me help them get back on course.

With so much attention recently being focused on the State of Ohio, due to the news of the 2016 Republican National Convention coming to the state, as well as superstar LeBron James announcing his redeeming decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the timing couldn’t be any better to shine a public spotlight on to the dark unjust practices of the Parole Board.

My suggestion: Go to my YouCaring page and support my effort to lease a commercial billboard in the state’s capital city of Columbus, so that collectively, we can display a brief message demanding that the Parole Board end its long-existing practice of excessively punishing the state’s marginalized class of old-law prisoners.

Here’s the letter from Kenneth R. Spiert:

kenneth_spiert_letter_2

Is Rehab Possible in Our Prisons? (Huffington Post)

The following is the full text of an article written by Professor William Nichols, originally published at the Huffington Post:

Jason Goudlock, an African-American whose mother was addicted to cocaine, grew up in Cleveland and went to prison in 1993, when he was eighteen. His first conviction drew a six-to-25 year sentence for assault and robbery with a mandatory nine-year “firearm specification,” and he has been incarcerated for more than 20 years.

In prison Goudlock read The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881), and Douglass’s account of his escape from slavery and work for abolition moved Goudlock to write his own story. When he had written some 200 pages and was beginning to rethink his own predicament, he fought with another prisoner and was put in isolation. Released from “the hole,” he returned to his cell to find his manuscript gone. Discouraged, he stopped writing and began to argue and fight with other prisoners. In 2005, he was charged with assaulting an officer although Goudlock’s legs were fastened in irons, his hands cuffed behind him, at the time of the alleged attack. He was transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary, the state’s “supermax.”

At first Goudlock responded badly to 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, which has been called a form of torture. He shouted obscenities at correction officers and their superiors. But he also came under the influence of a fellow prisoner, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, an African-American imam sentenced to death for his role in the 1993 prison uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Hasan played a crucial role in negotiating an end to the violent uprising in Lucasville. (See Staughton Lynd, The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising, 2011.) When Hasan was exercising in the dayroom in front of Goudlock’s cell, they began to talk. The imam, Goudlock writes, told him, “You don’t have to meet every situation with aggression. It’s like when a bug keeps flying in your face: you don’t have to kill it. All you have to do is just swat it away.” Goudlock listened, and he read some of Hasan’s essays. He stopped shouting and began to write again.

This time he decided to write a novel based loosely on his own experience. But isolation began to work on Goudlock. He started to shout again, to argue relentlessly with men on his cellblock, and he stopped writing. In June of 2008 I received a letter from Goudlock, who had read an essay of mine about isolation as torture. He introduced himself, mentioned my essay, and told me of his idea for a documentary film about the challenges he would face after he was released. In our sixth exchange of letters, he mentioned his novel, and I volunteered to help.

There were interruptions in the months and years that followed. Goudlock was denied parole four times, and he struggled with anger and depression. He was moved to a cellblock where three white supremacists tried unsuccessfully to attack him while he was in the shower. Then he was moved out of the Ohio State Penitentiary and into the Toledo Correctional Institution. As he adjusted to moving among other prisoners again, he became increasingly concerned about a change in Ohio law that causes problems for inmates sentenced, as he was, before July 1, 1996. New sentencing guidelines reduce periods of incarceration and don’t require inmates other than convicted murderers to go before the Parole Board, but the new guidelines don’t apply to “old law” inmates. Most importantly for Goudlock as he moved out of isolation, the 1996 law created a growing class of inmates who can pick fights with “old law” inmates without risking any change in their own sentences. The “old law” inmates, on the other hand, are likely to be denied parole for fighting. Goudlock has been denied parole four times, and he has become a crusader, opposing the injustice caused by Ohio’s sentencing guidelines. (See “Fighting the Repression of the Ohio Parole Board on Behalf of Old-Law Inmates” at FreeJasonGoudlock.org.) One of Goudlock’s supporters has created a group-funding website for publicizing the old-law injustice. (See www.youcaring.com/freejasongoudlock.)

Despite interruptions and crushing disappointments when he was repeatedly denied parole, as well as time he spent crusading for the rights of “old law” prisoners, Goudlock pushed on with his novel, and in 2012 he completed Brother of the Struggle. But his incarceration became more difficult. After he was transferred to Toledo Correctional Institution he was moved to Mansfield Correctional Institution and then to Trumbull Correctional Institution. In Trumbull he was put in isolation for photocopying and distributing a flyer about a Cure-Ohio protest against the Ohio Parole Board. Returning to his cell, he discovered his young cellmate had taken his property. The next day his cellmate and another inmate ambushed him in the cell and knocked him unconscious. Later that day, after he and his cellmate were locked in the cell together, they fought, and they both were put in isolation although Goudlock first had to spend a night in the infirmary to get his scalp repaired with surgical glue from the earlier ambush.

As a teacher and student of our criminal justice system, I see a familiar pattern in Jason Goudlock’s story. He has begun to educate himself, and we know education in prison decreases recidivism — knowledge that, unfortunately, our prison system too seldom acts on. But he is considered a troublemaker for questioning authority, regardless of the valid points he raises.

I once asked Goudlock in a letter what keeps him going after so many years in prison and so many disappointments. He mentioned longing for a relationship with a woman and for success as an entrepreneur, and he added this: “My main motivating factor is my desire to help at-risk youth avoid making the detrimental mistakes that I once made, which ultimately led to being incarcerated.” As idealistic as it sounds, the sentence captures something increasingly evident in his writing: he is moved by the influence his own mistakes and the failures of Ohio’s criminal justice system have on others. His growing inclination to take seriously the well-being of people beyond himself tells me Goudlock has been rehabilitated. His ideas for a documentary film on the challenges that await him when he is free also tell me he probably understands the level of difficulty he faces.

Goudlock holds firmly to his own strong convictions. His growth as a writer in the last seven years seems to be a result of his continued reading and his perseverance. His increasing maturity owes much to the passage of time, and ironically one of his most important mentors has been Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a man the state of Ohio is preparing to kill. (See “Ohio’s Mumia Abu-Jamal” at FreeJasonGoudlock.org.)

Others who agree with me that Jason Goudlock has earned the right to be free have signed a petition.

William Nichols has served on the Ohio Criminal Justice Committee for the American Friends Service Committee and visited prisons in several states. He has written about isolation as torture in the Friends Journal, and published essays in American Scholar, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, and Orion. He taught for more than 30 years at Denison University in Ohio and most recently at Dartmouth College.

Letter from Correctional Institution Inspection Committee

Commentary by Jason:

I received the following reply letter from the Ohio Legislative Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC), which was mailed to me January 10, 2014 (The year 2013 is a typographical error by the CIIC), in response to my revealing essay that I mailed to them, entitled Unveiling the Shadowy Past of Ohio Parole Board Member Marc Houk: A Story of Injustice. The essay sheds a light on a corrupt former Ohio prison warden, Marc Houk, who is now a member of the Ohio Parole Board. Houk was allowed to participate in my December 2012 Parole Board Hearing, in spite of the proven fact that in 2006, when he was the warden of Ohio State Penitentiary, he had attempted to frame me for damaging a service elevator inside of the prison. The service elevator in question was later discovered, by way of an Ohio Highway Patrol investigation (Incident number 06-000028-0400) to actually have been transporting a customized motorcycle that belonged to Houk, which was inside the prison illegally.

Amazingly, in the CIIC’s shallow reply letter, they fail to comment on anything related to the Marc Houk motorcycle fiasco. How a legislative committee can simply just turn a blind eye to the corruption of the Parole Board, as well as the discriminatory and excessive incarceration of old-law prisoners, is truly horrific to me. Perhaps if state legislators had the courage to address the corrupt practices of the Parole Board, maybe the state’s prison population wouldn’t be dangerously overcrowded right now.

Dear Mr. Goudlock:

Thank you for your letter, received December 18, 2013. The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee is a legislative committee that inspects the prisons of Ohio and evaluates programs, operations, conditions, and the grievance procedure. We welcome and appreciate communication from inmates and staff in Ohio prisons as it helps us to identify problems or concerns that may need to be addressed.

Your letter relayed the following: you feel that you are unable to receive a fair parole board hearing due to a past history you have with one of the current board members and you feel that the amount of time you have served was not correctly considered by the Board.

Please understand that the CIIC does not have any investigative authority regarding your concerns or the ability to alter a Parole Board decision, although we can assist you by instructing you on how to follow appropriate procedures to report your concerns.

Regarding your parole board-related concerns, please know that you were correct to request that your hearing decision be reconsidered by submitting a letter to the Parole Board Chair if you felt that the decision was unfair. It appears from your letter that your hearing decision was upheld. Please know that, per Ohio R.C. § 5149.10, Parole Board decisions are not appealable, so the decision you received is considered final.

In an attempt to assist with your concern, I looked through the handbook, but did not locate any provisions that require a Board member to withdraw from a hearing if they know the inmate involved. I have enclosed a copy of the newest version of the Ohio Parole Board Handbook, which was revised a republished December 2013, for your personal interest and review.

For your additional information, we have sent the most recent CIIC inspection report for your institution to your institutional librarian and asked him/her to make it available to inmates’ use. We encourage you to read the report so that you know the findings from our inspections. We truly welcome any feedback that you have on our reports or inspection procedures, as we are constantly working to improve our service to the state.

Thank you again for your communication. Please be assured that we will take your concerns into consideration as we conduct our ongoing inspection and evaluation of the Ohio prison system. Each inmate letter is logged in our database and included in the institutional inspection report and our analysis of the system as a whole. Furthermore, receiving letters from multiple inmates on the same issue assists us in identifying large areas of concern that need to be immediately addressed. We remain interested in your situation and welcome future communication in that regard.

Sincerely,

Jamie Hooks
Corrections Analyst I


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of the letter from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

Ariel Castro’s Suicide and the ODRC Status Quo by Sean Swain

Ariel Castro may save lives. It’s still too early to tell if anyone officially scrutinizing the Ohio Department of Retribution and Corruption has any integrity or not (The fact of their employment by the government in any investigative capacity mitigates against it, of course.), but if investigators do, then Ariel Castro’s suicide in ODRC custody may lead to changes that will save the lives of others. We will see.

Castro became infamous when Amanda Berry and two other missing Ohio women were found captive in Castro’s home. After a month in prison on what would have been a life sentence, Castro was found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide. Now, the situation is being investigated.

Good thing Castro was famous and news media brought all that attention to the ODRC. I say that because [prisoner] Billy Slagle wasn’t famous and when he died of an apparent suicide just a month prior, it was business as usual for the ODRC. Back at the beginning of the year at Mansfield Correctional Institution, four prisoners died in the course of about a month.

Nobody cared, not even when it was publicly revealed that two of those men died in an area that even staff referred to as Torture Cell Row. I was kept there for two days last September before friends raised public pressure to end the State’s regimen of torture employed upon me. I was held without outside communication in freezing temperatures, no bed, no toothbrush, no shower, no recreation. I was sleep-deprived and hallucinating, pacing 24 hours a day to stay warm.

No one, and I mean no one, can create an absolute sense of hopelessness and break down a human being the way the ODRC does it. They’re experts. Ask Ariel Castro.

At Toledo Correctional, on order of then-warden Khelleh Konteh, I was held in what was called a “suicide cell” for 15 days. I wasn’t suicidal. I had reported harassment and abuses by staff to ODRC Central Office. Warden “Killer” Konteh’s response was to disassemble me in the absolute deprivation of a “suicide cell.” Strange, but the place prison officials put prisoners in order to prevent us from killing ourselves is the exact same place they put is us in order to drive us to suicide.

Thing is, this is no secret. I reported the use of suicide cells for purposes of torture back in 2002, writing to then-Senator Robert F. Hagen of the Corrections Institution Inspection Committee, an oversight committee of the legislature that monitors the prisons. I told him about Torture Cell 182 at Richland.

I wrote the Corrections Institution Inspection Committee to report torture at Toledo a few years later.

Last year, I wrote the Correction Institution Inspection Committee to report torture at Mansfield.

The executive branch quietly believes that torture is its business. The legislature believes it too, and the inaction, the absence of any purposeful response, has emboldened tortures. Whatever the atmosphere and circumstances that led to Ariel Castro’s suicide, they’ve been an accepted component of a state-terror program that’s existed for more than a decade, uninterrupted by directors or wardens; senators, representatives, directors of oversight committees … all cashing pay-checks on your dime … not doing their jobs … making your world ever more dangerous … turning a blind eye to deliberate torture.

Good thing Ariel Castro was famous. His suicide may bring necessary scrutiny that will save lives. Or, the powers that be will act concerned until the spotlight fades and then return to using the oppressive machinery to satisfy their personal grudges against prisoners they don’t like, or against prisoners whose “ideology” offends them.

If the last decade is any indicator, probably the latter rather than the former.

A comment from Jason Goudlock:
Unsurprisingly, now that the media spotlight from Ariel Castro’s suicide has been dimmed, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is back to its inhumane business-as-usual operating of its for profit dressed-up concentration camps. In less than four months after the above mentioned August 4, 2013 suicide of prisoner Billy Slagle, the ODRC announced under a “last chance agreement” that it’s reinstating the corrupt correction officer who falsified the electronic log that was used to document the frequency in which security checks were being made on Slagle throughout the day leading up to his suicide. … If only the Ohio Parole Board was as forgiving as its conjoined ODRC government entity, perhaps, I might be able to receive a “last chance” parole.


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of Ariel Castro’s Suicide and the ODRC Status Quo by Sean Swain.

Letter from Kenneth R. Spiert – February 25, 2013

The following is a letter that was sent to me by the Ohio Assistant State Public Defender, Kenneth R. Spiert, which I received as a reply to two letters that I’d written to the Office of the Ohio Public Defender in regards to not having been afforded a “fair and meaningful” Parole Board hearing at my most recent hearing in December 2012. In the letter, the Assistant State Public Defender confirms, in part, that I didn’t receive a fair hearing. He concludes the letter by extending an offer to me for him to write a letter on my behalf to the Chair of the Ohio Parole Board, requesting that my unjust hearing decision be either modified or rescinded. To this day, however, I’ve yet to receive any follow-up information about this matter from anyone.

February 25, 2013

Dear Mr. Goudlock:

I am replying to your January 15 and February 14, 2013 letters regarding the Board’s recent actions in your case. I agree with you that the most recent continuance is inconsistent with the Board’s previous decisions and reasons supporting them (imposing 24 months after previous continuances of 36 months, then 14 months, then 15 months). That seems especially true in light of the fact that you reduced your security level to 3.

Unfortunately, so long as the Board cites a proper statutory reason for continuing a person’s incarceration, the action can stand. So far, no court has required that the Board’s decisions taken as a whole must make sense. Thus, we cannot challenge the latest decision on that basis.

You argue that the Board was mistaken when it stated in field 3B of its 12/28/12 decision that, “Though the inmate’s institutional conduct has improved since his last hearing, the inmate has continued to exhibit behavior that indicates an ongoing difficulty with anger and impulse control.” You point to your achieving Level 3 status and the absence of any conduct reports that resulted in your being placed in segregation. But you also indicate that you did receive conduct reports for “disrespect” and “disobeying a direct order.” I suspect that those reports are what the Board referred to as “behavior that indicates an ongoing difficulty with anger and impulse control.” The Board is allowed to consider misconduct that does not result in segregation.

Another of your concerns is that you only were interviewed by a panel of three members. It appears that this, however, is not a violation of Board procedure or policy. The decision in your case was a COBR1 decision, and represents a decision by the majority of the Board. Page 20 of the Ohio Parole Board Handbook indicates that, “If the Board Members participating [at the institutional hearing] cannot reach a majority vote or the institutional hearing is not conducted with at least a majority of Board Members participating, the case will be referred to COBR to obtain the required majority vote.” Also, the fact that Mr. Houk participated in your institutional hearing and in the ultimate vote on your release does not, alone, represent procedural or substantive error in the Board’s process. Mr. Houk is a member of the Board, and it is his obligation to rule on release matters. You would have to present substantial proof of a personal conflict between you and Mr. Houk before this could be a concern.

Finally, you are correct that the Board’s decision fails to accurately represent your 5 months of jail time credit. This means that the “Remaining time to be served” is actually 19 months, rather than the 24 months the Board intended to impose. The January 24, 2013 ruling on your reconsideration request failed to address that point. What the quality assurance analyst did in that ruling was to tell you that new evidence is required for a reconsideration and that you failed to present anything new. This is their stock answer to reconsideration requests.

If you want me to, I will write the Chair of the Board and request her to modify or rescind the 12/28/13 (sic) decision and advance your next hearing date by the five months you should have been credited. Please write and let me know if you want me to do that. Enclosed is a prepaid envelope for your convenience.

Sincerely,

Kenneth R. Spiert
Assistant State Public Defender


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of the letter from Ohio Assistant State Public Defender Kenneth R. Spiert.

Call and Post Article: Thousands of Ohio Inmates Languish Away in Prison

The following article, Thousands of Ohio Inmates Languish Away in Prison, was recently published by the Cleveland Call and Post, which accurately reports on the longstanding Ohio old-law sentencing disparity that adversely affects a minority-class of approximately 5,000 old-law offenders, such as myself.

In the article, the Chairwoman of the Ohio Parole Board, Cynthia Mauser, is quoted justifying the reasons of why old-law offenders are being paroled at a drastically lower frequency than in previous years, in which she states, “Despite the perception of the public, there is no concerted effort not to release these people. There are offenders who are serving time for very serious offenses [murder and sex-related]. Some have multiple consecutive sentences.” Without question, there are many criminal offenses that are more severe than others.

In my opinion, however, it seems that the Parole Board Chairwoman is justifying the practice of discriminating against a select body of offenders. I, however, was not charged, convicted, or accused of any murder or sex-related offenses–nor am I serving multiple consecutive sentences. So, why am I being kept in prison, as a first-time offender? I’ve served 20 consecutive years, and they not only fail to approve a parole, but they can’t even afford me with a “fair and meaningful” Parole Board hearing.

Here’s the full article:

Thousands of Ohio inmates languish away in prison

Kush Azrael | 9/27/2013, 11:09 a.m.

http://callandpost.com/news/2013/sep/27/thousands-ohio-inmates-languish-away-prison/

Many of Ohio’s inmates are serving long sentences and are finding it harder and harder to get out of prison on parole.

A renewed emphasis on moving eligible offenders out of prison is having little effect on “old law” inmates. Under the old law, offenders were sentenced “tails,” for example, 6 to 25 years or maybe 3 to 15 years in prison. Under the “new law,” Senate Bill 2, passed in 1996, sentenced offenders serve definite terms, or “flat” time, such as a 10-year sentence.

Many of the almost 5,000 remaining old law inmates in Ohio prisons, more than 50 percent, are doing time for murder or manslaughter.

In 2011, only 7 percent of the 1,918 inmates petitioning the parole board for consideration of release were paroled. This compares to 20 percent of 2,121 inmates getting hearings the previous year. In years before that, the number was closer to 50 percent. Ohio’s parole rate has plunged below 7 percent as the pool of offenders eligible for parole is mostly made up of those convicted of murder and sex offences. But changes have taken place to help model inmates who committed crimes a long time ago convince the Ohio parole board that they deserve a chance to be released. State officials say they have made changes that could improve inmates’ parole odds, such as coaching them on how to articulate their case for release, and working harder to get input from their supporters as well as their opponents such as prosecutors and victims.

However, critics say the parole board has no accountability, is plagued with members biased against offenders and gives too much weight to the nature of the crime, and not enough credit for years of good behavior and rehabilitative programming. They argue that some longtime inmates could be productive citizens instead of costing taxpayers $25,000 a year to be incarcerated.

One inmate, who we will call William because he still he still has to go before the parole board, is currently housed at the London Correctional Institution. He has completed numerous programs at the institution and currently works for Ohio Penal Industries (OPI) and has worked for OPI for 15 years. Only “role model inmates” are allowed to work at OPI. William’s last parole hearing was in 2001. He was denied, and “flopped” or continued for 3 more years because he was a juvenile offender before he became an adult offender.

This is only one example of how the parole board continues inmates’ sentences despite the inmates showing signs of rehabilitation.

Some inmates believe this is the toughest time to be in front of the parole board because the board has become more rigid.

Since 1996, judges have given most offenders “flat time,” or exact sentences, meaning the only hearing they get is upon release, when the board decides if they need post-release control or not.

Cynthia Mauser, chairwoman of the Ohio Parole Board said, “despite the perception of the public, there is no concerted effort not to release these people.” She added, “There are offenders who are serving time for very serious offenses. Some have multiple consecutive sentences.”


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of this article.

Ohio Old-Law Prisoner Files $250,000 Federal Lawsuit Against Prison Warden and Officer for Alleged Brutality and Cover-up

On May 31, 2013, stemming from an incident that occurred April 12, 2013 at the Mansfield Correctional Institution located in Mansfield, Ohio, old-law prisoner Jason Goudlock filed a federal civil lawsuit in the United States District Court for The Northern District of Ohio (Case no. 1:13CV1215), alleging that he was physically assaulted at the institution in an incident involving correction officer and defendant, Dana Blankenship (as well as a host of other to be determined unidentified correction officers), who is alleged to have been the ringleader behind the brutal assault, as well as a central figure in the subsequent alleged cover-up of the unconstitutional incident, which, according to a second claim cited in the civil lawsuit, also involves the involvement of the institution’s former warden and defendant, Terry Tibbals.

The plaintiff, Jason Goudlock, who filed the civil lawsuit as a pro se litigant, also filed a motion with the court requesting to be appointed legal counsel due to the overall complexity of litigating the lawsuit, as well as the defendants ongoing efforts to undermine his constitutional right to access the court.

Jason would like to be contacted by (or recommended) a civil attorney willing to represent clients on a pro bono basis. Anyone wishing to assist him in this matter, or offer support of any kind, may contact him directly.


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of this notice.

Letter From Senator Smith – September 25, 2012

The following reply letter was sent to me September 25, 2013 from Ohio Senator Shirley Smith, whom I’d written to for the second time a few months earlier. In that letter, I asked the Senator if she would write a letter to the Parole Board on my behalf. I figured, considering that she seemed to empathize with my situation of injustice in the previous letter that she had written to me, that she would honor my request — I figured wrong!

The Senator declined to help me, stating that to do so would be a “conflict of interest” with her ethics rules as an elected official. I guess the state of Ohio ‘s conflicting old-law sentencing guidelines, which clearly conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, aren’t unconstitutional enough for an Ohio elected official to recognize my situation of being excessively punished as being inhumane.

Perhaps if my human rights were being trampled on in an oil-rich country, such as Iraq or Libya, instead of the United States, maybe an Ohio elected official would propose going to war for the sake of upholding my human rights? But, the hell with war. They’re good for absolutely nothing … just like my letters that I mailed to Senator Shirley Smith.

September 25, 2012

Dear Mr. Goudlock,

Thank you for contacting me in regards to your parole board hearing in December and for sending your essay about work on your novel. It was a pleasure to read your essay, and I strongly encourage you to continue writing.

Your letter enumerated the many reasons that you believe you should be granted parole, and you requested that I write a letter to the Parole Board on your behalf. Unfortunately, I am unable to assist you in this request because of ethics rules pertaining to conflict of interest that govern my actions as an elected state official.

Though I regret that you have found yourself in this situation, please do not hesitate to let me know if there is any legislative information that I might provide to you.

Sincerely,

Shirley A. Smith
State Senator, 21st District


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of the letter from Senator Shirley Smith.

Letter from Senator Smith – June 5, 2012

The following reply letter was sent to me June 5, 2012 from Ohio Senator Shirley Smith, whom I’d wirtten to several months earlier seeking to know if any kind of sentencing reforms were in the works for Ohio old-law prisoners. In my letter, I outlined the longstanding old-law sentencing disparity. Being that, at the time, Senator Smith was making some positive gains with sentencing reforms for Ohio’s majority class of new-law prisoners (offenders who committed a crime on or after July 1, 1996), I assumed that she would be more than willing to propose some beneficial sentencing reforms for Ohio’s old-law class of prisoners. In her letter, though, in my opinion, she seems to talk around, under, and over doing anything significant to address the old-law injustice. But, being that she stated that she was going to contact the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction on my behalf, I remained optimistic that some kind of semblance of justice might be achieved. Nevertheless, I never heard from anyone at the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

June 5, 2012

Dear Mr. Goudlock,

Thank you very much for your letter regarding your 18 years in prison under an “Old Law” sentence. Though there has been much work done over the last two years to reform Ohio’s criminal sentencing laws, no attempts have been made to rectify the problems that old law prisoners regularly denounce. Ohio’s prison population and its ex-offenders represent a segement of the population that is too frequently forgotten in public policy discussions.

Should any legislator decide to address these issues with additional legislation, please know that I will keep you informed with the appropriate information. Your concerns are not lost upon me, because I believe that every individual deserves a second chance in life. Please know that I will be in touch with the Department of Rehabilitation & Correction in order to discuss your situation and concerns.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to write to me again,

Sincerely,

Shirley A. Smith
State Senator, 21st District


Downloads:
Download a PDF copy of the letter from Senator Shirley Smith.