Web Content Viewer
Actions

Release Authority

Release Authority

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.

About the Release Board & Process

The ODYS Release Authority Board

Chair of the Release Authority: Jordan A. Argus

Currently the board consists of four 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 two 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 two 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 one year after confinement credit is applied) also receive progress reviews where a hearing officer joins the monthly interdisciplinary team (IDT). The first progress review is scheduled for 6 months after the Release Expectations are completed, and then every year on that date up to 6 months before the MSED. Progress reviews are designed to make sure the youth is progressing and meeting expectations, in preparation for a release review. Special progress reviews can be scheduled for youth in need of additional support. 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.

Release Authority Panels Schedule

See the PDF to the right for the current 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. See more about webcam sessions with Release Authority.

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 dialogue.

How the Office of Victim Services Was Established

On July 1, 1998 a new approach towards victims of juvenile crime was initiated by the Ohio legislature. House Bill 1 created a Release Authority within the Department of Youth Services (DYS). The Release Authority is required to conduct reviews and make decisions regarding the continued confinement, release, or discharge of a youth under the custody of the Department of Youth Services.

Included in this law was the creation of the Office of Victim Services (OVS). The Office of Victim Services is an important component of the Release Authority. The Office is responsible for being an effective, supportive, and informative resource for victims.

Contact the Office of Victim Services  

Ohio Department of Youth Services
Office of Victim Services
4545 Fisher Road, Suite D
Columbus, OH 43228-8923

Tel: (614) 466-8635
Fax: (800) 872-3132
Email: Victim.Services@dys.ohio.gov

Victim's Rights

The Office of Victim Services provides confidential support and information to victims, survivors, and guardians of minors impacted by crime by youth sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services.

Services Offered by the Office of Victim Services (OVS)

  • Notification of a youth’s commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS)
  • Notifications of youth’s upcoming release and discharge reviews and his/her outcome
  • Crisis support during the time the youth is in the custody of the DYS
  • Assistance to victims with concerns relating to a youth in a facility or on parole
  • Referrals to other state and community services, including Crime Victim Compensation
  • Representing victims’ concerns to the Release Authority Board, including collecting and presenting Victim Impact Statements
  • Facilitating Office Conferences between victims and the Release Authority Board
  • Notifying victims of youth apology letters and their ability to request a copy

Services available for victims of juvenile crimes with an offender committed to DYS:

The Office of Victim Services within the Department of Youth Services will provide an initial letter with:

  • Notification of the specific rights of victims of juvenile under Ohio law, including the right to designate a victim representative.
  • A Victim Impact Statement to be completed by the victim or designated representative to identify the impact of the crime upon the victim;
  • A Victim Notification Form (VNF), which may be completed by the victim and returned to OVS to secure the following provisions and considerations:
  • Information, referral services and advocacy on behalf of the victims throughout the juvenile corrections process;
  • An opportunity to meet in person, or to speak by telephone with a representative of the Release Authority;
  • Information regarding the status of a youth committed to DYS institution or under parole supervision;
  • Notification of upcoming reviews, releases, discharges, and revocation decisions;
  • Information regarding policies and procedures of the Department of Youth Services, including the operation of the Release Authority and the Office of Victim Services;
  • Referrals to appropriate federal, state, or local community resources, including victim service agencies;
  • Notification of a letter of apology available to the victim, if such a letter was written by the youthful offender;
  • Opportunity to meet with the offender, if requested by the victim, to participate in a victim offender mediation process; and,
  • Opportunity for the victim of crime to participate in a victim impact panel and to speak directly to incarcerated youth regarding the impact the crime had on the victim.

Notification

The Ohio Department of Youth Services provides notification to victims regarding the status of a youth in our custody. Please complete and submit a Change of Address Form any time your name or address changes so that we can continue to provide you with notification.

NOTE: With the passage of SB 160, known as “Roberta’s Law,” which became effective March 22, 2013, victims of violent crimes that are a felony level 1, 2 or 3 are automatically notified of upcoming releases whether or not the victim has actually requested notification. If you do not want to receive notification, you must complete an Opt-Out Form.

Victims of felony level 4 and 5 cases or non-violent felony level 1, 2 and 3 cases must complete a registration form to receive notices. You will receive a notice from our office once we get your information from the court. If you believe you are the victim of a juvenile offender and have not received a notification form, please contact OVS.

What if I Want to Talk to My Juvenile Offender?

OVS offers a program called Victim Offender Dialogue. This program is a process in which the victim of a violent crime and the juvenile offender are able to meet. All requests for this program must come from the victim/survivor through the Office of Victim Services. Dialogue preparation can take from several months to over a year before the meeting actually occurs.

How May I Submit Completed Forms?

If you have any questions about completing any paperwork, please contact the Office of Victim Services Information Line at 800-872-3132. Completed forms may be submitted by faxing, emailing, or standard mailing:

Email to Victim.Services@dys.ohio.gov, or
Send U.S. Mail to Ohio Department of Youth Services, Attn: Office of Victim Services, 4545 Fisher Road, Suite D, Columbus, OH 43215

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions


Offenders do not have access to the name, address or other personal information about his or her victim. Offenders are not present if a victim selects to express his or her views verbally to a member of the Release Authority or Office of Victim Services, while attending a review or discharge hearing. In addition, if a victim does not wish to be personally involved in the process, but desires to have his or her position taken into consideration, a family member or other interested party may be designated to act on behalf of the victim. 

When a youth is committed to the Department of Youth Services,(DYS), the local juvenile court committing the youth provides the Office of Victim Services with the contact information for the victim. The Office of Victim Services either mails or emails information to the victim; this includes a letter containing important dates regarding the offender and how to connect to community resources, a notification form, and an impact statement for the victim (s) to share their concerns.. When the victim completes and returns the Victim Notification Form (VNF), the victim becomes a registered victim with the Office of Victim Services. Registering with the Office of Victim Services ensures communication with the victim about important dates related to the offender. For example, receiving communication regarding future notifications regarding when the offender will be released, is eligible for parole and finally discharged from DYS custody. 

Yes. A registered victim may send information at anytime to the Office of Victim Services, (OVS), prior to a Release Authority review or hearing. Information may be shared through the victim impact statement form which accompanies the notices sent to registered victims. The victim may also express their concerns through the use of audio, email or video.

OVS hosts a monthly Victim/Survivor Family Conference Day, the first Wednesday of every month, for registered victims and their proxy's to provide input via phone, video, or in person. Anything you share will be shared privately with the representatives from the OVS and the Release Authority, who are making decisions regarding the release or discharge of a juvenile offender. T

These conference day's occur the first Wednesday of every month from 8am-4pm. To RSVP, call 614-644-6416 or 800-872-3132 or email dysvictim@dys.ohio.gov. Please provide your first and last name, phone number, email address, and time you plan to attend. We will confirm your appointment via email or phone.

If you would like to assist in the youth offender habilitation process, consider participating in a small group panel. During these panels, three to four victims of crime share their stories with youth offenders who have committed similar crimes. Please email dysvictim@dys.ohio.gov to learn more about participating.  

 

A Victim Impact Statement includes a summary of the circumstances of the criminal offense committed against the victim. It may provide information regarding: financial loss relating to restitution, including property loss, lost wages, cost of services required due to the crime (e.g., medical, dental, optical, surgical); any physical or psychological problems resulting from the crime; and, any information that the victim feels the Release Authority and OVS should know when considering the impact of the crime. This statement can be emailed at anytime and is helpful to the Release Authority when they are making decisions about the juvenile offender's progress reviews, and release dates.

Please email dysvictim@dys.ohio.gov to learn receive a victim impact statement form.  

 

A Victim Impact Statement reflects the consequences of the crime that the victim has encountered and personalizes the crime, allowing others to see that the crime impacted a human being, and is not just another nameless and faceless statistic. It gives the victim an opportunity to detail the circumstances and results of the crime, sharing information, pictures, medical records, itemized bills, and any other pertinent information. This process empowers the victim through his or her participation in the court, juvenile corrections, and/or probation or parole process.

Victim Information & Notification Everyday (V.I.N.E.) is a free, anonymous, computer-based service that provides information and notification to victims of crime. V.I.N.E. will provide offender status information including any upcoming hearings or court events. You may also register for automated telephone notification when an offender has a change in status throughout the juvenile justice process. It is important to note that you may register to receive information and notification from both V.I.N.E. and the Office of Victim Services.

The process is called Victim Offender Dialogue. A registered victim with the Office of Victim Services must submit a written request to the Office requesting to meet with the offender. Please include the goal of the meeting. The actual mediation process is contingent on numerous factors, including the written request from the victim, the stated willingness of the offender to participate, and the completion of an application by both parties.

Should you have questions please call 614-644-6416 or 800-872-3132 or email dysvictim@dys.ohio.gov. Please provide your first and last name, phone number, or email address so we can contact you directly. 

Victim Impact Panels are comprised of survivors of crime who speak to juvenile offenders about the circumstances of their victimization related to the offenders crime. The Office of Victims Services is committed to representing the best interests of victims and survivors of crime. Fortunately, this means that the Office of Victim Services must also be very aware of the situation of the youth committed to the Department of Youth Services. It is because of this unique situation, working on behalf of victims and survivors of crime, and attempting to hold youth accountable for their crimes, that initiated utilizing victim impact panels with youth incarcerated in DYS institutions. Survivors of crime interested in becoming a victim impact panelist are encouraged to contact the Office of Victim Services by calling 614-644-6416 or 800-872-3132 or sending an email to dysvictim@dys.ohio.gov