Response to Comments by SB 256 Sponsors and Supporters

This page contains responses to comments and statements made by SB 256 supporters.

Family worries new law paves a road out of prison for convicted killer of 98-year-old woman

Response 1

Senator Manning. “In no way does this new law guarantee release for offenders, only an opportunity for parole if they can show that they are truly rehabilitated. The Supreme Court has declared the sentence of juvenile life without parole unconstitutional, thus SB 256 brings Ohio into line with federal law.”

NOVJM Ohio response. First, the Supreme Court never banned all juvenile life without parole. In Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court banned mandatory life without parole for juveniles. Discretionary life without parole for juveniles is still allowed by the Supreme Court. 

The fact that Senator Manning has to stress the fact that this bill doesn’t guarantee release shows that he knows that releasing killers like Gavon Ramsay is a bad idea. He is refusing to directly address the possibility his law creates, which is the release of Ramsay and other depraved killers. NOVJM simply asks for honesty. If you sponsor a law that allows violent criminals to be released or increases the chance of release, acknowledge that possibility. This statement also ignores the impact SB 256 has on victims. Even if Ramsay is never paroled, the parole hearings will still be traumatic for Margaret’s family.

Response 2

“Former State Senator Peggy Lehner, who co-sponsored the bill, said it’s about giving hope to young people locked up for life.”

NOVJM Ohio response. How about hope for victims? Victims should be allowed to move on and not have to re-live the trauma. SB 256 takes away victims’ hope for healing.

Response 3

“Lehner stressed the new law does not guarantee criminals will be released. She said it only provides them with the opportunity to go before the parole board and make their case for release.”

NOVJM Ohio response. Senator Lehner sponsored SB 278, which would have created presumptive parole.

Response 4

“‘Over the past two General Assemblies serious efforts have been made toward sentencing reform,’ Manning said. ‘Although, mainly focused on those suffering from addiction, we have also focused on minors involved in serious felonies and how their chance for rehabilitation is more plausible based on their age. This in no way excuses violent offenses, it simply provides a path toward parole for minor offenders after serving a minimum of 25 years.’”

NOVJM Ohio response. Not all minors are the same. Not all are capable of rehabilitation.

Family of slain woman fights to keep killer behind bars for life


Senator Manning. “If someone has not shown that they’re remorseful and rehabilitated they won’t be released,” he added. “This bill was looking at many of those cases where people have changed and turned their lives around, became good model prisoners and done everything right. They made a mistake when they were juveniles and were sentenced as adults.”

NOVJM Ohio response. Murder is not a mistake. Not all crimes committed by juveniles are “mistakes.” Some, like Ramsay’s murder and post-mortem sexual assault of Margaret were evil crimes committed with complete comprehension of the results and the desire to bring about those results. Ramsay fully understood the wrongfulness of his crimes, yet he committed them anyway for his own pleasure. NOVJM opposes over-sentencing offenders who make mistakes to terms that are disproportionate to their crimes. But life without parole is not disproportionate to Ramsay’s crimes. We can allow offenders who deserve release to be released without mandating parole hearings for sadistic murderers like Ramsay.