Two men

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction is proud to announce in their 2014 Annual Report that their already record-low recidivism rate has dropped again and is now 27.1 percent and continues to be well below the national average of 49.7 percent. Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after he/she has either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior.

  The report attributes Ohio’s reduction in recidivism to the use of evidence-based programs such as reintegration units within the prisons, programs to connect offenders with families and resources while incarcerated, community corrections programs and their continued work with local communities and reentry coalitions.

  As of January 11, 2014, Ohio’s prison population was 50,604 and these prisoners are “housed” in the state's 28 prisons which were built to house a total of 38,579 inmates. That’s 12,025 inmates too many. Some have served their “reasonable” time and now await the decision of the Ohio Parole Board to release them. One of these inmates is Norman Whiteside.

  Norman has been an inmate of the Ohio prison system for the past 30 years, convicted of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder in the death of Laura Carter who was killed by a stray bullet in 1982. Norman has continued to state that he is innocent and in fact was convicted based on his interviews when assisting the Columbus Police Department with solving the crime, retrieving the murder weapon and convicting the persons who actually pulled the trigger.

  Norman faces the Ohio Parole Board this October and his son, Delayne Whiteside, posted on his Facebook page a heartfelt letter and request to the Parole Board to treat his father with “fairness” and to stand by their moto of “rehabilitation.” Delayne went on to plead “When our father was sent away, it was in good faith that Ohio was doing everything in their power to "restore" a man, then return him back to his family, in good health, with the ability to work and be a model citizen. Even while behind bars, he (Norman) has made strides to keep our family together by way of contact with our mothers, other relatives and friends. He's a father, grandfather and all around great guy that a number of people want to spend some ‘restored’ time with and we’re asking for that chance in October.”

  Does the eleven Ohio Parole Board members tie the goal of connecting offenders with families and resources while incarcerated with the need to then allow them to reconnect outside of prison with their families while utilizing community corrections programs that are already put in place? Will the board reach its decision using a computer software program called Compas, one of several designed to predict whether individual convicts will return to prison. In 2005 the Board rejected Norman’s release based on his refusal to admit he was guilty of the crime. What will the outcome be this time with the use of Compas? Will the software release him? We’ll find out this October.

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