Chair of the Release Authority: Jordan A. Argus
The ODYS Release Authority (RA) was established in 1998. Its primary mission is to be the agency's final and sole authority for making release and discharge decisions for all youth committed to the legal custody of the department. It does this by considering public safety, the best interests of the youth and the interests of crime victims using evidence based tools and practices.
Currently the board consists of 4 board members with the Chair serving as the Bureau Chief. The board members are appointed by the director and all have extensive experience in the criminal justice field. In addition to the board, the Bureau includes 2 hearing officers who assist with reviews, the Office of Victim Services (OVS), and a program administrator.
OVS is comprised of an Administrator, one victim advocate and an administrative professional. The office provides mandated services to the victims of juvenile crime committed by youth who are in the custody of ODYS. OVS staff members serve as the voice of the victim in ODYS and assist the board in understanding the impact of the youth’s impact on individual victims of crime.
Release Process Overview
The release and discharge process begins when a youth is committed to ODYS. Following the completion of an assessment process, RA staff review the assessment results, commitment paperwork and other information provided by the court in order to establish the Release Expectations for the youth. Additionally, the Release Expectations outlines court requirements and establishes facility and region expectations for the youth. The Release Expectations are reviewed with the youth in a face to face meeting, including an explanation of the release and discharge process as well as provide clarification of any questions the youth may have. A Release Authority Review Schedule (RARS) is created, which includes timelines for all subsequent reviews. The Release Expectations and RARS are provided to the youth, facility, region, youth’s family, court and prosecutor.
Youth are scheduled for their first release review 60 – 90 days prior to the youths minimum sentence expiration date (MSED). The reviews are conducted by a panel of 2 board members of the RA. The panels are generally held at the facility and include the youth, facility staff, parole staff and family members. The family may participate in person, via phone or webcam. In most instances, a decision is provided at the conclusion of the panel. The youth may be approved for release on the MSED, approved with up to 60 days added to the stay, or denied, with no more than 180 days of additional time added. Denials are automatically re-scheduled for subsequent release reviews 60 – 90 days from the new PED (parole eligibility date).
Youth with longer stays (more than 1 year after confinement credit is applied) are scheduled for a progress review every 6 months until their MSED. The progress reviews are designed to make sure the youth is progressing and meeting expectations, in preparation for a release review. Progress reviews are held at the facility and include the youth, facility staff, parole staff and family members. The family may participate in person, via phone or webcam.
Upon release from the facility to parole, all youth have a discharge eligibility date (DED) established, based upon their risk level as determined by the Ohio Youth Assessment System (OYAS). Youth receive a parole plan and expectations for discharge, similarly to the release process.
Copies of the panel dates for each facility are on the ODYS internet and intranet for the calendar year. Release Authority members are available to answer questions about the process or specific youth reviews.
Office of Victim Services
The Office of Victim Services was established as a unit within the Release Authority in 1998. The office is specifically responsible for ensuring that the victims of juvenile crime have input into and information about the release and discharge of the youthful offender. The office provides a variety of statutory notifications, supportive services to victims and victim offender mediations.
Release Authority Panels Schedule
Family Webcam Information Sessions With the Release Authority
The Release Authority of ODYS invites family members of youth to participate in a Webcam Information Session with your son or daughter’s assigned board contact. Webcam sessions are held once a month on the first Wednesday of the month and are scheduled through your son or daughter’s Juvenile Parole Officer or other regional office staff. Families can simply request a session, and the parole region will provide the necessary equipment.