Senate Passes Mandatory Crime Victim Notification System
Ensuring Crime Victims Have a Voice in Parole Hearing Process
May 03, 2012
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Columbus - 
Named 'Roberta's Law,' the Ohio Senate today approved legislation  which would mandate that victims and their families be notified when an offender is up  for parole. Senators Kevin Bacon (R- Village of Minerva Park) and Jim Hughes (R-  Columbus), sponsored Senate Bill 160 after they were inspired by the story regarding  Columbus resident, Roberta Francis. Roberta's family learned of her killer's release from  prison by reading about it in the local newspaper.   

Roberta Francis was 15 years old when she was brutally raped and murdered in 1974. Her  killer, a convicted child molester, was sentenced to life in prison; however, he served  only 30 years of his sentence before being paroled. Francis' family did not receive any  notice when his daughter's killer went before the parole board and was unable to appear  on her behalf. Current law notifies a victim or family only upon request.    

'Crime victims and their families should not find out about an offender's release from jail  after the fact,' Bacon said. 'This bill will ensure that they have every opportunity to  express their opinions about why an offender should remain in jail.'     

Under Senate Bill 160, the mandatory notification system will ensure victims and their  families are automatically notified when parole hearings are scheduled for the offenders  whom committed crimes against them. Victims can also choose to opt-out of receiving  notification.     

'Giving crime victims and their families a voice during parole hearings is an important  part of our criminal justice system, but victims have not always been notified of their  ability to exercise that right,' Hughes said. 'Senate Bill 160 will help ensure that these  individuals and their families are not re-victimized when an offender is released on parole  without first hearing from the victim and their family.'   

In addition, the bill also provides that voluntary manslaughter committed with a sexual  motivation will be considered a sexually-oriented offense. This change will close a gap in  Ohio's sex offender and registration laws in order to ensure that law enforcement will be  able to monitor when any sexually motivated killer is released into the community.      Senate Bill 160 now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for further  consideration.
For more information, please contact Susan Restrepo in Senator Bacon's office at (614) 466-8064 or Carrie Mavrikis in Senator Hughes' office at (614) 466-5981.
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