By Susan Tebben
House arrest and electronic monitoring don’t count as part of jail-time credit, the Ohio Supreme Court said in a recent ruling.
The decision reverses a lower court’s decision that said an Erie County man was entitled to credit for time served in a 2015 case for which he was placed on house arrest after violating terms of his community control, and on electronic monitoring after a new case in 2016.
Eric Reed was originally indicted for promoting or engaging in criminal conduct while actively participating in a criminal gang, aggravated rioting and assault. Reed pleaded guilty to the criminal-gang related charge, in exchange for the dismissal of the other charges.
He was sentenced to five years of community control, which included a five-year prison sentence if Reed violated the court conditions.
Reed was placed on house arrest for violating the terms of his community control in 2015, and less than a year later, he was put on electronic monitoring. He was scheduled to appear in court on the violations in October 2016, but multiple court delays pushed the appearance to July 2017.
During the 2017 hearing, Reed admitted to the violations, but also said he was entitled to credit for the time he spent on house arrest and electronic monitoring. The court disagreed, and sentenced him to five years of prison time.
The Sixth District Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying an exclusion to time-served for probation, parole and release-on-bail “supervision” had been removed from Ohio law, according to court documents, and therefore no longer applied.
The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear the case because of the state’s argument that the term “confinement” is not interchangeable with the term “detention,” and therefore can’t be considered the same as prison incarceration.
Attorneys for Reed say the state law used in his case does not define “confinement” and “it was reasonable for the Sixth District, in giving the word its common, ordinary and accepted meaning, to use ‘the next closest term’” the Ohio Revised Code did define: “detention,” the Ohio Supreme Court decision stated.
“Reed maintains that he could have been prosecuted for escape if he had walked away from his house without authorization, just as if he had escaped from prison,” court documents stated.
Ohio Revised Code allows for a reduction in prison time for “confinement in lieu of bail while awaiting trial, confinement for examination to determine the prisoner’s competence to stand trial or sanity, confinement while awaiting transportation to the place where the prisoner is to serve the prisoner’s prison term.”
Justice Sharon L. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, said the General Assembly would not have included a list of possibilities for confinement if it had intended for any type to be appropriate.
“Each of these situations involves a public or private facility intended for penal confinement,” Kennedy wrote. “The legislature has expressed the intent that credit is to be given only for the time the defendant is confined in a public or private facility. Confinement in a personal residence, therefore, does not qualify under the statute.”
Justices Judith French, Patrick Fischer and R. Patrick DeWine agreed with Kennedy’s opinion, and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor agreed with the judgment.
Justice Michael Donnelly disagreed with the ruling, saying the opinion of the majority of the court “is not supported by statutory law and is inconsistent with statutory history.”
Donnelly argued that the General Assembly’s list of possible reductions in time was “illustrative but not exhaustive,” and that the state’s legal definition of house arrest comes with “stringent conditions,” and qualifies for jail-time credit.
“If it were the General Assembly’s intent to deny jail-time credit for the time an offender served on electronically monitored house arrest, it certainly knew how to do so because it had done so previously,” Donnelly wrote.
Justice Melody J. Stewart agreed with Donnelly’s dissent of the court ruling.
Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio. Read more Ohio Capital Journal stories here.