The Ohio Adult Parole Authority

From The Final Straw.

The Ohio Adult Parole Authority. It was started in the early twentieth century after the Ohio Penitentiary caught fire and a lot of prisoners died. At its inception, the parole board was to act as a mechanism to reduce the prison population responsibly.

It never seemed to do that.

In its modern incarnation, the parole board has been rife with abuses and scandal. In its hey-day in the 1990s, when every prisoner had to appear before the board due to indeterminate sentencing schemes, the parole board was at its worst. Then Board Chair Margaret Ghee would routinely issue a prisoner a five-year continuance of his sentence, then make him an offer: he could keep the five years or trade them in for the Penny Trick. For however many of the ten pennies she dropped hit the floor when she let go of them, the prisoner would do a year. If the prisoner opted for the pennies and caught all ten, he could go home. If he missed all ten, he’d end up with ten years.

If he opted for the Penny Trick, Margaret Ghee would chuck the ten pennies over her shoulder and as they hit the floor, she’d say, “Ten years. Get out.”

On other occasions, parole board members would intentionally provoke a prisoner, even going so far as to throw books. There’s a hole in the wall of one of the parole interview rooms at Mansfield Correctional from a book thrown at a prisoner named Pete who was on my cell block in those days. He was paroled when he didn’t react violently.

The happy ending notwithstanding, I’m unaware of any criminal justice studies that support the efficacy of throwing books at prospective parolees.

During that period, the parole board started the trend of issuing “super-flops.” Someone sentenced to a term of 15 to 40 years, for example, would appear before the board after 10 years, and the parole board would continue his sentence for 20 or 30 years. The longest “super-flop” I ever witnessed was 40 years.

Think about that. If a guy committed a crime at age 18 and appeared before the parole board 10 years later, they were ordering him to come back for his next review at age 68.

Those practices no longer occur only because the parole board changed its own rules on occasion in order to avoid losing lawsuits. They are the only agency in Ohio that has the authority relegated to it to write its own rules. Senators, representatives, governors– nobody will rein-in the parole board’s powers. They all come and go, but the parole board remains.

Senator Jeff Johnson attempted to take them on, then ended up in federal prison and was replaced by pro-parole board former prosecutor Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.

At one time the parole board was caught selling paroles. Outright selling them. There was a big dust-up at Grafton Correctional. It would seem that the parole board’s practice of handing out super-flops created a lucrative market for selling paroles that no one could get otherwise.

I’m not sure that the bribery practices ever ended. When I prepared for my 2011 parole hearing, another prisoner we’ll call Popcorn turned me on to an attorney who specialized in parole representation and friends collected $2,000 to pay her. I won’t reveal her name, but her initials were ANDREA REINO. I was one of roughly a dozen clients that Popcorn had collected for her, each of us paying between two and five grand– while Popcorn was paying her ten grand.

All of us small fish were denied, but Popcorn, who had collected all of those clients for Andrea Reino, was taken up early and given a parole. It would almost seem that Andrea Reino was collecting all that cash that Popcorn funneled in to her as a kind of outsourced agent for the parole board, and that her big-money clients at the tops of the pyramid schemes all walked… almost as if Andrea Reino was wheeling and dealing with the parole board. I have no evidence that she ever shared any of the funds with the parole board, but I also have no evidence that she didn’t.

In my own case, when I appeared before the parole board, I was suing former Chief Inspector Gary Croft… at the time that he jumped on the parole board and gave me five years, and Andrea Reino, my attorney, promised to challenge that obvious impropriety. He clearly used his seat on the parole board to stick it to me for suing him. She never did anything.

Hard to tell by what method the parole board is now taking bribes, but I see them again in July 2016, and I hope to be able to raise some funds. It would be good to be able to set up a Parole Board Bribery Fund at Not sure how much I need to raise, but I think my initial goal should be to raise at least twenty grand. Maybe set up something at kickstarter or gofundme too. If anyone has any information on who their undercover outsourced bribery agent is these days, drop me a line and hook me up. I’m really tired of doing all this time that broke people do.

This is anarchist prisoner Sean Swain from Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio. If you’re listening, you ARE the resistance.

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