COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a state law allowing prison officials to keep prisoners beyond their sentence if the prisoner violates the law while incarcerated is constitutional.
In a 5-2 decision on Wednesday, the state’s highest court found that the Reagan Tokes law does not violate the constitutional rights of inmates.
The law was passed in 2019 and named after the 21-year-old Ohio State senior who was killed in February 2017. Tokes was kidnapped, raped and fatally shot by Brian Golsby, a convicted sex offender who had recently been released from prison months earlier before the murder.
Two men imprisoned in cases unrelated to that crime contested the law. Christopher Hacker is serving time for aggravated burglary, and Danan Simmons Jr. was sentenced on weapon and drug charges.
Hacker and Simmons argued that the provision violates the constitutionally outlined separation of powers between the judicial branch, which issues sentences, and the executive branch, which includes the prison department. They said the provision allows the executive branch to act as prosecutor, judge and jury and infringes on the right to a fair trial by not ensuring protections such as the right to an attorney during proceedings about extending a sentence.