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Reps. Davis, Seitz introduce the Sentencing Fairness and Justice Act

Criminal justice reform legislation would help ensure justice for incarcerated Ohioans
July 29, 2022
Shayla L. Davis News

COLUMBUS — State Reps. Shayla L. Davis (D-Garfield Heights) and Bill Seitz (R- Cincinnati) today announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 708, the Sentencing Fairness and Justice Act. The bill will allow non-violent offenders to secure their release or reduce their punishment in accordance with updated laws as laws are changed to decriminalize or reduce the penalties for particular offenses.

“This bill is rooted in the basic human senses of fairness and justice. People shouldn’t deteriorate in prison when their crimes are not harmful to society,” said Rep. Davis. “When we find it within ourselves to correct the injustices of the past, redemption shouldn’t just live on paper – it should touch the lives of the people who’ve suffered under that injustice, too.” 

Legal changes that reduce criminal sentences are extremely rare in Ohio. There were no sentence reduction bills in the past four General Assemblies that became law. Meanwhile, the number of distinct felonies in the Ohio Revised Code has increased nearly 500% since 1980 – from 161 then, to 752 in 2020. That means this legislation is a much-needed step toward decarceration in the face of decades of over-criminalization. 

“I have joined with Rep. Davis in sponsoring this bill because I believe it is a small but important step forward in our efforts to achieve restorative justice and to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal convictions so that these ex-offenders can regain work opportunities and become more productive citizens,” said Rep. Seitz.

The Sentencing Fairness and Justice Act now awaits assignment to an Ohio House committee.