COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine identified 167 inmates who he believes should be considered for emergency release due to concerns of overcrowding.
In making his recommendation, DeWine cited a longstanding statute (ORC 2967.18) that allows the Director of Rehabilitation and Correction to alert the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee of an overcrowding emergency and recommend that certain inmates be released to make more room
DeWine said that the unprecedented times caused by the coronavirus pandemic qualify to move forward with that statue.
The governor said two groups are being considered for early release.
He said in the first group, there are 141 prisoners who now are within 90 days of being released are being considered for early release.
The second group of 26 prisoners being considered are a smaller group prisoners 60 years of age or older with chronic health conditions. It is on this list that Thomas Noe's name appears.
On the list of prisoners over age 60 is Thomas Noe, 65, who was a key figure in a Bureau of Worker’s Compensation skimming scandal. Noe was convicted in 2006 of skimming about $13.7 million from the $50 million rare-coin investment fund he managed for the state.
Before starting the state sentence, Noe served two years in federal prison for a 2005 conviction on illegal campaign contributions to President George W. Bush's re-election campaign.
Noe, along with his then-wife Bernadette Restivo-Noe, served as chairpersons of the Lucas County Republican Party. Noe was also chairman of the 2004 Bush-Cheney election campaign in northwest Ohio.
The parole board previously decided to not grant Noe parole several times. DeWine said on Tuesday that Noe falls under the category of qualifying because his crimes are not violent and that he had previously gone through a similar process.
"It seemed to me that what we should do is treat these 26 the same. The parole board will come back with conditions and those that come back with favorable recommendations, we'll see if we want to add any conditions. Noe, he's already gone through that process, but not recently. We'll see what the parole board does," DeWine said. "We wouldn't have done this without the coronavirus."
If the prisoners are released, DeWine said the prisoners said they would be monitored and "we would not dump these individuals out."
DeWine said the following prisoners convicted of the following crimes will NOT be considered:
- sex offenses
- homicide-related offenses
- ethnic intimidation
- making terroristic threats
- domestic violence
Among the first group, those prisoners fitting one of these following conditions also will not be considered for release:
- Have been denied judicial release in the past.
- Have prior incarcerations in Ohio
- Are inter-state offenders
- Have warrants or detainers
- Those who have serious prison rule violations in the last 5 years.
The second group involves 26 prisoners who are older than 60 with chronic health conditions who fit certain criteria. They cannot fall under any of these categories:
- sex offenses,
- homicide-related offenses,
- ethnic intimidation,
- making terroristic threats, and
- domestic violence.
- Been denied judicial release in the past.
- Have had prior incarcerations in Ohio
- Are not inter-state offenders,
- Have warrants or detainers, and
- Those who have has serious prison rule violations in the last several years.
The next steps are that DeWine is asking judges and prosecutors associated with these cases to waive the 60 days notice so that they can take these cases directly to the parole board. The parole board is prepared to meet start meeting on Friday to address these matters.
"Prisons pose a unique issue in this pandemic. Social distancing in the general population is helping us flatten the curve, but for prison inmates and staff, social distancing becomes much more challenging," DeWine said.