Reagan Tokes Act seeks to change sentencing, electronic monitoring laws

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The kidnapping, rape, and murder of Ohio State student Reagan Tokes has spurred legislative action at the statehouse.

Wednesday, State Senators Kevin Bacon and Sean O’Brien, along with State House of Representatives Kristin Boggs and Jim Hughes, unveiled their plan to address what they call serious deficiencies in Ohio law.

The Reagan Tokes Act focuses on two things, according to Sen. Bacon — the sentencing of violent offenders, and electronic monitoring and re-entry standards.

Rep. Hughes explained in a press conference that the bill would take the most severe offenders — those charged with first- and second-degree felonies and third-degree violent felonies — and impose a minimum and maximum sentencing standard. There would be no changes to sentencing standards for the remaining types of felonies.

The maximum sentence would be no more than 150 percent of the minimum sentence and the lawmakers say it would incentivize the convicted to reform. The legislators say this will keep those who cannot, or choose not, to reform behind bars.

This will contradict 20 years of legal precedent and could lead to a contentious fight.

Looking at re-entry standards, the legislation would force the Department of Corrections to create a system where violent offenders are not just released into the streets.

Senator O’Brien said it also makes sure parole officers get the support they need to have dockets that are manageable.

When it comes to electronic monitoring of GPS trackers, the bill seeks to do four things:

  • Impose a mandate that GPS monitors must have restrictions
  • Create a database searchable by law enforcement officers
  • Remove the requirement of a subpoena for GPS data for law enforcement when investigating a crime
  • Requires the monitoring companies use the latest technology that will notify investigators who are searching the system while investigating a crime if one of the GPS trackers was at the location being investigated during the time of the crime

According to Rep. Boggs, there is currently no requirement that an offender who is released from prison have restrictions placed on where they can and cannot go while out on parole and being monitored by a GPS ankle tracking device.

The bill also does not provide any funding to pay for the new mandates.

During the press conference, the parents of Reagan Tokes read a statement they had prepared.

In it, they urged the people of Ohio to support this legislation and what it seeks to do.

The legislation will be split up in the Senate into two bills, while an identical measure will remain as a single bill and head through the House at the same time.

Senator Bacon said this is to ensure that something on the bill is being worked on at all times and to speed the process of passing the measure through the legislature along.

The bipartisan bill has the support of members from central Ohio in both chambers and caucuses. It is unclear how much support it has outside of the state’s core region, however.

The bills are expected to start making their way through their chamber’s committees.

It is unclear if the Senate Bills will be assigned to the Judiciary Committee since Senator Bacon is the chairman. Typically, the bills introduced by the chairman of a committee are not assigned to their committee.

The final decision on that will be up to Senate leadership.

When asked if the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee supports the bill or if there has been any discussion on the likelihood of it being taken up quickly, the representatives could not say.