Nov. 27, 2023: This week’s editorials from Ohio newspapers


By The Associated Press

Akron Beacon Journal. November 23, 2023.

Editorial: Getting tough on teen crime can produce more adult crime. Ohio needs a new strategy

Few would argue a 17-year-old who commits a major felony crime deserves a lesser punishment than an 18-year-old facing years in prison for the same offense.

That’s why Ohio lawmakers in 1996 — during a get-tough-on-crime era — forced juvenile judges to begin sending more child offenders to adult court where they can receive adult prison sentences as if they were already 18.

In a handful of cases, that might be necessary.

But stripping juvenile judges of most discretion has failed to prevent teen crimes and ignored the challenges many kids face through no fault of their own, not to mention recent research on brain development. It’s a problem likely to get worse with so many teens using guns to commit crimes.

Teens may know it’s wrong to rob someone, but few understand that using a gun will likely send their case from juvenile to adult court. They have no idea they may be sent to adult prison and on their 18th birthday placed into the general prison population to hang out with a really rough crowd.

When the offenders are finally released, the Children’s Law Center, a national nonprofit legal center that works for kids’ rights, reports they are 34 times more likely to commit a new felony.

“You learn quick there are only two types of people in prison — predator and prey,” said Tasmone Taylor, a 44-year-old Cleveland man, who was bound over as an adult at 15 and spent more than 25 years in prison. “It’s no place for juveniles.”

Gov. Mike DeWine this month announced a “working group ” to examine the state’s juvenile prisons and county-run youth jails following a USA TODAY Ohio Network investigation into the horrible conditions at those facilities. He also would be wise to examine how the mandatory bindover law is creating career criminals instead of giving children a second chance.

Several other states already have abolished similar bindover laws, which also disproportionately impact diverse youths.

Research not available in 1996 now shows adolescent brains, even brains of people into their early 20s, don’t work like adult brains. The prefrontal cortex of the brain — where people control their behavior, thoughts and emotions — is the last part of the brain to fully operate, said Laurence Steinberg, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Temple University.

But in Ohio, we’re sending children as young as 14 to adult court for charges including murder, rape, felonious assault or other crimes involving guns. Children can also be bound over to adult court if they’ve had a history of being found guilty of other crimes. Those ages 16 or 17 are automatically bound over for serious crimes such as murder.

Most would likely be better off in a juvenile facility until their 21st birthday even with the problems at Department of Youth Services facilities.

Instead, an average of 181 teens are sent to adult court every year. At any one time, roughly two dozen convicted teens age 17 or younger are held together at the Correctional Reception Center in Pickaway County until they turn 18.

Not only should judges have more discretion over which teens are sent to adult court, Ohio needs to rethink how it handles young adult prisoners. Perhaps they should be segregated from adults until they reach age 21 or older.

We also fear politics plays too big a role in these cases just as it motivated lawmakers nearly 30 years ago when mandatory bindovers were expanded. No judges or prosecutors want to appear they are soft on crime, even when the defendant is a child.

We can do better, Gov. DeWine. To quote you, this is not the “Ohio way.” Are we seeking to punish children or help them overcome mistakes and become productive adults?

It’s time for a new plan.


The Plain Dealer. November 22, 2023.

Editorial: The Statehouse needs another reminder, this time on tobacco sales, that home rule rights matter

In January, Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill, passed by a lame-duck General Assembly, that would have prevented Ohio cities and villages from banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, and more broadly preempted local tobacco ordinances, fees or taxes that went beyond state law. And in July, DeWine line-item-vetoed a similar ripper slipped into Ohio’s two-year budget. That “preemption,” had it become law, also would have barred municipalities from curbing the sale of flavored tobacco products.

The governor’s vetoes were on target, though now some General Assembly Republicans are foolishly and shortsightedly talking up a possible veto override.

The January bid to prohibit city and village flavored-tobacco-product bans had been slipped into another bill (House Bill 513 of 2022 ) by Senate Republicans just after the city of Columbus decided to ban sales of flavored and menthol tobacco products there, starting in 2024.

When DeWine vetoed HB 513, he correctly noted that Ohio is in the middle of an epidemic in which Ohioans are starting to “vape” or smoke e-cigarettes at younger ages. “The ease of entry into vaping and then into tobacco is brought about by the flavors,” he said.

Then, on July 3, DeWine line-item-vetoed a similar attempted preemption, also originating in the Senate, buried in Ohio’s 6,196-page budget, House Bill 33.

It’s that July veto that some Republican legislators may try to override in yet the latest Statehouse attack on city and village home rule in Ohio. Were the veto to be overridden, that presumably would overturn existing bans on flavored tobacco products in at least three cities (Columbus, Toledo and Bexley, the Columbus suburb), and prevent them in other communities,’s Jeremy Pelzer reported.

In Cleveland, Mayor Justin Bibb has proposed banning the sale of flavored and menthol cigarettes and flavored vape products.

That can’t happen if the legislature overrides DeWine. If, foolishly, legislators do so, that would offer more evidence, were any needed, of special interests’ stranglehold on the Statehouse.


Toledo Blade. November 21, 2023.

Editorial: Pension chief suspended

The State Teacher Retirement System of Ohio Board of Trustees has suspended Director Bill Neville while Attorney General Dave Yost brings in outside counsel to investigate claims of managerial abuse by Mr. Neville.

The suspension has gotten all the attention, but a legal filing in the challenge to Gov. Mike DeWine’s dismissal of his board appointee may be more important.

An anonymous STRS staff letter that went to Mr. Yost accuses Mr. Neville of violence, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment. It cannot be credibly investigated while Mr. Neville presides at STRS, so he’s on paid leave.

Mr. Neville has been under fire from angry teachers and dissident board members for treating STRS investment staff too well. That is what caused Mr. DeWine to dismiss his appointee Wade Steen.

Mr. Steen had led an effort to oust Mr. Neville over payment of bonuses to investment staff despite a $5 billion market loss.

With the election of a dissident board member set to take office in September, Mr. Steen’s board faction would have a majority — if Mr. Steen was still on the board.

Mr. Steen filed suit over his dismissal. His attorney, Toledoan Norman Abood, argued that the governor does not have the power to remove a board appointee without good cause because an appointee who serves at the pleasure of the governor would not be a fiduciary if he or she can be removed at the whim of said governor.

This issue is of far-reaching significance. Ohio law on the public pensions makes it crystal clear the trustees are fiduciaries of the fund.


Sandusky Register. November 24, 2023.

Editorial: State fails victims

A prosecutor in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office assigned to serve as special prosecutor overseeing the Amanda Dean homicide investigation referred questions about his appointment to a spokesman “per office policy.”

The problem is spokesman Steven Irwin doesn’t know anything about the Dean case or the appointment, and he has nothing to say about it.

Dan Kasaris, a former Erie County assistant prosecutor, knows that.

Kasaris was secretly appointed months ago as special prosecutor. The appointment was done in secret because that’s how attorney general prosecutors operate. It’s that secrecy, the total lack of transparency, that rightfully creates mistrust.

Dean went missing more than six years ago. Huron County Sheriff Todd Corbin never searched for her, claiming she was alive and well. She was previously the victim of domestic abuse numerous times, but the sheriff never arrested anyone for causing her bruises and making her bloody.

The secrecy Kasaris and the attorney general cherish help keep the wraps on why a woman can be beaten and bloodied, and nobody is held accountable. It helps keep secret the real reasons there was never any search for Dean for all those years and why she went from being “alive and well,” as the sheriff claimed, to being the suspected victim of a homicide more than six years later.

It’s not as if Corbin didn’t know the man suspected of beating Dean. He knew of him from prior domestic violence calls. In one of those prior incidents, he told a woman who was in the emergency room being treated for injuries that she should come around on Monday and talk with the city law director about her attacker, the same man suspected of beating Dean.

He never interviewed the suspect then, and charges were never filed. The same thing happened when the same man allegedly assaulted Dean. No interview, no charges.

And when Dean disappeared, Corbin canceled the search for her the next day when he first reported she was alive and well. No interview, no charges.

This shows incredible incompetence or intentional decisions to protect the guilty and sacrifice victims. Either way, or any way in between, it’s obvious there’s a problem. Kasaris’ “office policy” excuse for avoiding questions is designed so those questions cannot be asked and won’t ever be answered.

Having an office policy that only spokespeople can address questions is a total copout, an abdication. The same thing happens every time the Ohio attorney general’s office “helps” with difficult cases. Every time.

We suggest that Kasaris put on his big-boy pants and start acting like someone who wants to see justice served. We hope Ohio’s next attorney general can do that, too, because the one we’ve got now doesn’t seem interested in justice, at all.

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