GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Prosecutor Jason Holdren presented crime statistics from his office over the course of 2017 and into 2019 to the Gallia Commissioners, Thursday, at the Gallia Courthouse.
“For those that don’t know, every fall, one of the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code is to present the commissioners with the annual criminal justice report,” said Holdren. “That means we look at September 2, 2018 through September 1, 2019, and we give an overall report as it relates to my office.”
Through 2012 to 2016, Holdren reports that 214 felony cases were indicted on average each year in Gallia. In 2017, 312 cases were indicted. In 2018, 357 were indicted and there are estimated to be between 380 and 390 indicted by the end of this year with a current number of 321. As a note, a defendant could have one or more felony indictments as per his or her specific case.
“We have two more sessions scheduled of the grand jury,” said Holdren. “We’re averaging 30 to 35 cases per grand jury…That’s a lot of work my office does. We’re not close to doubling the average but we’re getting close to 400 and if trends continue, we’ll get there.”
In 2017, 53 individuals were sentenced to community-based corrections facilities and 67 in 2018. Such facilities were not reportedly used until Holdren’s administration took office, he reported.
“A lot of people have this idea that we incarcerate everyone or send them to prison,” said Holdren. “That’s not the case…That is run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. It’s a lockdown drug treatment facility. We usually send folks (first-time offenders) there six months. And then from there they will go to a halfway house and might be there for a few months and from there, there is usually a referral into our drug court. It’s this idea to get folks on the path to recovery and give them a little more freedom with a halfway house but still the oversight. We’ve had a lot of success with that.”
“We’re definitely trending upwards (in crime indictments),” said Holdren to a reporter after the meeting. “There’s an increase in accountability. Here’s what I mean by that. Someone is charged with a felony and then given an own recognizance bond where they sign a document saying they’ll promise I’ll come back on the promised court date. One tool we utilize regularly is ‘failure to appear.’ If you’re given an OR bond and you don’t come to court, that qualifies as a new felony offense of the fourth-degree. When we’re talking about numbers of felonies indicted, the next grand jury comes and we will indict them so there is definitely a rise. We’re very aggressive when we prosecute cases and that’s proven by an increase in accountability.”
Holdren said if a defendant was given the opportunity to be out on bond with that comes a lot of responsibility. If someone takes advantage of it and fails to meet their court obligation, they will be charged again.
“If you have a pending felony case, I can’t imagine many things in life more important than that,” said Holdren. “The expectation is that you’ll come to court on time…My expectation is that if someone is carrying felony one or two level amounts of drugs, they should go immediately to jail.”
Of other crime trends, Holdren said his office was seeing a rise in methamphetamine cases.
“We see a number of significant charges that are exacerbated by their use of methamphetamine,” said Holdren. “It’s a highly dangerous drug. We’re also seeing cocaine again and occasionally see large quantities of pills. The vast majority of our drug cases now involve methamphetamine. We’re seeing them more than the opiates.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.