"Roberta's Law" Headed To Governor
Bill ensures victims are notified when their offenders are up for release
December 13, 2012
[ Kevin Bacon Home | Kevin Bacon Press ]

COLUMBUS— The Ohio General Assembly today gave final approval to legislation that requires crime victims and their families be notified when their offenders are up for parole or early release in the judicial system. Senate Bill 160, sponsored by Senators Kevin Bacon and Jim Hughes (R- Columbus), now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Bacon and Hughes introduced the legislation – also known as “Roberta’s Law” – in response to the story of Columbus resident Roberta Francis. Francis was 15 years old when she was brutally raped and murdered in 1974. Her killer was sentenced to life in prison, but was paroled after serving only 30 years of his sentence. Roberta’s family did not receive any notice that her killer was scheduled for parole – they learned of his release from prison after the fact by reading about it in the newspaper.

“This bill will ensure that victims and their families will be aware of and have access to the parole process, and make sure their voices are heard when offenders are considered for release,” Bacon said. “It will also bring more accountability to the process and make sure parole boards have accurate information from all sides of a case when making their decisions.”

Current Ohio law provides notification when an offender is to appear before the parole board only upon request. Senate Bill 160 changes the notification system so that victims and their families will be automatically notified when an offender is scheduled to have a parole hearing. Victims may choose to opt out of receiving notification.

“The changes made in Senate Bill 160 will ensure that offenders are not released on parole without officials having the opportunity to hear from victims and their families,” Hughes said. “This is an important part of our judicial system, but one that has not always been used to its fullest potential, and I am proud of the Legislature’s efforts to ensure that victims are able to express their opinions on whether an offender should remain in jail.”

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