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May 29, 2006

The costs and consequences of Foster

Three months ago, the Ohio Supreme Court in Foster applied Blakely to Ohio's structured sentencing system and adopted a Booker-type remedy (basics here, commentary here and here and here).  Today, the Toledo Blade has this interesting follow-up article headlined "Sentencing law prompts delays, praise: Ohio ruling means defendants being resentenced — usually to same term."  Here are some snippets:

[A] recent state Supreme Court ruling that voided the sentences imposed on Foster, Cole, and hundreds of other convicted felons statewide is costing taxpayers unknown thousands of dollars in transportation and related costs.  That's because defendants whose old sentences are affected by the ruling have to be brought back from prisons across Ohio for resentencing in the counties where they were convicted.

The time lost by court officials and judges statewide on rescheduling and resentencing the defendants, as well as the delays that result for other court matters, is virtually incalculable. And the end result appears to be an exercise in futility. Cole's trip from the Lebanon Correctional Institution in southwest Ohio, for example, resulted in the same 26-year sentence that he received seven months earlier in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

So why go through all this trouble for what appears to be a waste of time and money? Though lower-court judges won't comment on the justices' rulings, prosecutors are offering high praise for the Ohio Supreme Court's decision.... The prosecutors say the ruling means that judges' sentences will remain intact, and they will no longer be burdened with giving detailed explanations for imposing maximum, consecutive, or more than minimum sentences.

Jeffrey Gamso, a Toledo defense attorney who is the legal director of the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the state Supreme Court, in throwing out sections of the sentencing law, has rewritten legislation that was designed to bring consistency and fairness. However, Mr. Gamso believes that overall, the defendants who appealed will receive close to or the same sentence. "The overall numbers will not change that much. Judges were pretty much giving the sentences they wanted to give, and just making the findings to justify them," he said. "The overwhelming number of inmates are getting exactly the same sentence that they got before."

Some related posts on Foster's aftermath:

May 29, 2006 at 09:12 AM | Permalink


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What a shock!

Posted by: Steve | May 30, 2006 8:56:05 AM

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