Media Contact: Karmah Elmusa | | 202-341-9500


The bill will grant parole eligibility to those Ohioans who were handed extreme sentences under the age of 18 

On Saturday, January 9th 2021, in a critical advancement for the state of Ohio and for the national youth sentencing reform movement, SB 256 was signed by Governor DeWine after passing handily through the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. SB 256 grants parole eligibility to people who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offense and prohibits children from being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Ohio is the 24th state in the country (in addition to the District of Columbia) to abolish this barbaric practice. Thirty states now either ban life without parole for children or have no one serving the sentence. 

“Those of us who have family members or loved ones serving life sentences they were given as children in Ohio have been working on this for many years,” says Stefanie Tengler, the loved one of an individual impacted by SB 256. “We have encountered major hurdles and setbacks in the process, but have known all along we could never give up on our kids. The signing of this bill means we have hope that someday our loved ones will come home to us, and that those who were told they would die in prison will wake up with a newfound hope in their hearts, too.”

The bill, which was sponsored by Republican Senators Nathan Manning and Peggy Lehner, will impact hundreds of individuals in Ohio who were convicted of crimes they committed as children. The bill grants parole eligibility to children convicted in adult court. “Passage of this bill is an important step in making Ohio a fair state for all,” says Senator Manning. “Thank you to my colleagues in the Ohio legislature and to those who joined us in working on this legislation to help move Ohio’s juvenile justice system forward.”

“We’ve seen an incredible uptick in state legislatures banning life without parole for kids, and until now, Ohio has been woefully out of step with that national trend toward youth sentencing reform,” says Preston Shipp, the CFSY’s Senior Policy Counsel. “Children must be held accountable for their actions, but because they are fundamentally different from adults in their ability to assess risk and consequences, and their unique capacity for change, they should be held accountable in age-appropriate ways with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society.” 


For more information, or if you would like to arrange an interview, please contact Karmah Elmusa at | 202-341-9500.

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is a nonprofit that leads efforts to ban life-without-parole and other extreme sentences for children, and supports those incarcerated as children who are released after serving long sentences.