SIDNEY – Two prison inmates assigned to incarceration in the state prison system are being considered for early release through the governor’s plan to reduce the number of prisoners exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic statewide. The non-violent inmates under consideration are a woman from Sidney and a man from Celina.
On Friday, April 10, Shelby County Common Pleas Court Judge James Stevenson scheduled a hearing to release 30-year-old Michelle R. Dubose. Her judicial release hearing will be Thursday by video from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.
Stevenson signed a 60-day waiver of release for Forrest E. Pinson, 62. However, no judicial hearing had been scheduled for Pinson as of Monday. He is currently housed at the Madison Correctional Institution in London.
In a letter to Stevenson dated April 4, ODRC Director Annette Chambers-Smith gave two identifying qualifiers for the release of Dubose and Pinson.
In the letter, Chambers-Smith reported a woman qualified under pregnant and post-partum females screen for crimes and infractions over the past year. The second was for individuals 60 years of age or older nearing their release.
Regarding Dubose, Stevenson said, “That person is in prison on a fifth-degree drug possession charge and has about two and half months remaining on her sentence. If an inmate is granted judicial release they are typically on community control (probation). How long they remain on community control is typically a decision of probation depending on the circumstances.”
About Pinson, “I have received one request for a 60 day waiver. That is on Forrest Pinson serving a sentence on possession of drugs (a fifth-degree felony). I do not have any idea when he may or may not be released since that would be up to ODRC and the governor. I have executed and faxed back to ODRC a 60 day waiver on Pinson.”
Pinson was sentenced to 11 months in prison on Sept. 3, 2019.
The judge referred to state statute R.C. 2967.12(A) that deals with ODRC releasing individuals on parole or recommending to the governor a pardon or commutation of sentence. That statute says, “… at least sixty days before the adult parole authority recommends any pardon or commutation of sentence, or grants any parole, the authority shall provide a notice of the pendency of the pardon, commutation … to the prosecuting attorney and the judge of the court of common pleas of the county in which the indictment against the person was found.”
Stevenson said, “The ODRC is asking the judge and, presumably the prosecutor, to waive the 60-day notice so that the ODRC or the governor can move forward expeditiously.”
Asked if he agreed with the governor’s edict, Stevenson said, “I agree that he has some very legitimate concerns about some potentially serious and deadly consequences in the prison environment. My understanding is that early releases are limited to low level, nonviolent prisoners who have served virtually all of their imposed sentences. In the face of this pandemic and the potential consequences of not doing anything I think this decision by the governor is understandable and probably a good one.”
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.