The Ohio Senate today passed important legislation to protect Ohioans from repeat offenders who commit the majority of violent crimes around the state. Sponsored by State Senators Frank LaRose (R-Copley) and Jim Hughes (R-Columbus), the bill provides law enforcement with new tools to keep violent criminals off the streets.

Senate Bill 97, better known as the Violent Career Criminal Act, would classify any adult convicted of at least two violent felonies in the past eight years as a "Violent Career Criminal." If any offender with this designation commits another felony, the bill would require an additional 2 to 11 years of mandatory prison time. For additional crimes involving firearms, it would increase prison time by 50%.

"This legislation represents a collaborative, bipartisan effort to keep Ohio families safe from the worst criminals in society," said Senator LaRose. "It will equip law enforcement officers and prosecutors to do their jobs more effectively while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens." 

The legislation incorporates findings from the Violent Crimes with Guns Advisory Group, convened by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in 2011 to study the problem of gun violence and recommend more effective prevention strategies. A report commissioned by the group found that people with two or more violent felony offenses make up 0.91% of Ohio's adult population yet commit 57% of Ohio's violent felonies. 

"As a former assistant prosecutor for the city of Columbus and Franklin County, I have firsthand knowledge of the threat this narrow group of violent criminals poses to our society," said Hughes. "This legislation will help our law enforcement officers keep Ohioans safe from the worst of the worst offenders.

The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote and will go to the House for further consideration. 

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