The Ohio Legislature wants to rewrite the Ohio criminal code - all 200-plus pages.
Pending a signature from Gov. John Kasich, a new state committee will take a “30,000-foot view” of Ohio’s complex criminal code to see what should be tightened up, revised or eliminated. The last review was done in 1971 when, incidentally, Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, was beginning his second term as a lawmaker.
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A provision establishing the 19-member Criminal Justice Recodification Committee was tucked into Senate Bill 483, mid-biennium budget legislation, approved Wednesday by the Ohio House and Senate.
Sen. John Eklund, R-Chardon, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, had the committee provision inserted in the budget bill. He said over time, Ohio’s criminal laws have been amended and added to so often that they’re in need of an overhaul. Many also lack specification about the mental state of mind.
“We want to take that 30,000-foot review and look at the body of criminal law as a whole,” Eklund said in an interview. Incremental changes over the years have created “confusion, inconsistencies and duplication,” he said. The revamp would help law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, juries and average Ohioans, he said.
Eklund admitted overhauling the entire criminal code of more than 200 pages will be a big job in a relatively short time. The legislation calls for the committee to wrap up its work by the end of next year, with a report submitted to the full legislature in early 2016.
Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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