Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Editorials

Vigilantly keeping track

  • n1golsby2-jpg-1

    Brian Lee Golsby, center, stands with his attorneys Diane Menashe, second from left, and Kort Gatterdam, right, during his arraignment hearing on April 3, at Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio.

    COLUMBUS DISPATCH/JOSHUA A. BICKEL

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    The family of Reagan Tokes wept after a jury found Brian Golsby, not pictured, guilty of raping and murdering Ms. Tokes.

    COLUMBUS DISPATCH/Barbara J. Perenic

The data from Brian Lee Goldsby’s GPS ankle monitor helped prosecutors establish where he was when he murdered 21-year-old Reagan Tokes. Of course, if the data from that monitor had been used correctly, it would have alerted authorities that Goldsby was not where he was supposed to be before he killed someone.

The family of Ms. Tokes has sued the state of Ohio for failing to adequately monitor him.

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A judge sentenced Golsby, 30, to multiple life terms in prison without the possibility of parole after he was convicted of the murder, rape, kidnapping, and robbery of the Ohio State University psychology major, formerly of Monclova Township, after she left work at a Columbus restaurant on the night of Feb. 8, 2017.

He had been released from state prison months earlier after serving six years for attempted rape. He was fitted with the ankle monitor while living in a release program’s residential facility. Authorities need to always know where a high-risk sex offender ordered to wear an ankle monitor is. That’s the point of the ankle monitor.

Since Ms. Tokes’ murder, the General Assembly has passed a bill named for her that gives judges more flexibility in sentencing some violent offenders, which is good. But lawmakers have failed to move on a companion bill that would address the monitoring issue.

That bill would mandate real-time monitoring of GPS devices with prompt alerts of violations. It would also require increased parole-officer staffing to reduce caseloads. It is surprising that in 2018 this is not already standard practice. It’s even more surprising that a law would be necessary to make it so, but apparently a law is necessary. So the General Assembly should move quickly to approve it.

Being able to have confidence in authorities’ capacity to monitor criminal defendants, parolees and others who have been ordered to wear GPS monitors is crucial, particularly in a time when criminal justice reform is making great strides in reducing jail populations.

Lucas County is a leader in this effort, having dropped its inmate population by nearly 20 percent in just the first year of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge for reducing the local jail population.

Reducing the number of people in jail is complicated business. It means working to identify addicts and the mentally ill so that they can be diverted to appropriate treatment. It means sorting out offenders who are unlikely to be dangerous or commit other crimes and sending them into programs rather than putting them behind bars. And it means having reliable systems for tracking people who otherwise might be behind bars while they are in the court system.

To reduce jail populations, judges, law enforcement and the public need to be able to have confidence in the mechanisms that let defendants remain outside of jail. This means the monitoring systems need to be the best they can be. And it means the people responsible for tracking people in the monitoring system actually track them.

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