Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

126 th General Assembly of Ohio

Ohio Legislative Service Commission

77 South High Street, 9th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-6136 ² Phone: (614) 466-3615

² Internet Web Site: http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/

BILL:

Sub. S.B. 262

DATE:

May 23, 2006

STATUS:

As Enacted – Effective July 11, 2006

SPONSOR:

Sen. Goodman

LOCAL IMPACT STATEMENT REQUIRED:

No —

Minimal cost

 


CONTENTS:

Post-conviction DNA testing, declares an emergency

 

State Fiscal Highlights

 

STATE FUND

FY 2006*

FY 2007

FUTURE YEARS

General Revenue Fund (GRF) or Other State Funds of the Attorney General**

     Revenues

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

     Expenditures

- 0 -

Potential increase related to DNA testing costs, not likely to exceed minimal

Potential increase related to DNA testing costs, not likely to exceed minimal annually

Note:  The state fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.  For example, FY 2006 is July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2006.

* For the purposes of this analysis, any state fiscal effects generated by the bill will most likely not occur before FY 2007.

** The likely source of state money for DNA testing costs appears to be the Victims of Crime/Reparations Fund (Fund 402), but LSC fiscal staff has yet to confirm that with the Office of the Attorney General.

 

·        Future DNA testing costs.  Current law, unchanged by the bill, appears to be silent on who would pay for the post-conviction DNA tests.  That said, whether counties or the state pays for those DNA testing costs, they are not likely to exceed minimal annually.  In the case of the state, minimal means an estimated cost of less than $100,000 per year.  Under the existing post-conviction DNA testing law, it appears that the Office of the Attorney General has opted to cover the costs associated with performing a post-conviction DNA test.

·        Application process.  Certain incarcerated inmates are required to send a copy of their application for post-conviction DNA testing to the Office of the Attorney General and the Attorney General is permitted to file a response with the appropriate court of common pleas.  Under the existing post-conviction DNA testing law, the Attorney General’s practice has been to simply keep records of information sent by inmates, courts of common pleas, and county prosecutors.  It would seem then that, subsequent to the bill's enactment, continuation of that practice would not generate any discernible ongoing operating costs for the Attorney General.

·        Appeals.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not gathered any evidence suggesting that the number of appeals that may result from the bill will generate any discernible effect on the caseloads and related annual operating costs of the courts of appeals.


Local Fiscal Highlights

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

FY 2006

FY 2007

FUTURE YEARS

Counties

     Revenues

- 0 -

- 0 -

- 0 -

     Expenditures

Potential increase in criminal justice system operating costs, not likely to exceed minimal

Potential increase in criminal justice system operating costs, not likely
to exceed minimal

Potential increase in
criminal justice system operating costs, not likely
to exceed minimal

Note:  For most local governments, the fiscal year is the calendar year.  The school district fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.

 

·        Estimated post-conviction DNA testing costs.  Current law, unchanged by the bill, appears to be silent on who would pay for the post-conviction DNA tests.  That said, whether counties or the state pays for those DNA testing costs, they are not likely to exceed minimal annually.  In the case of a county, minimal means an estimated cost of no more than $5,000 per year.

·        Application process.  Whenever an application for post-conviction DNA testing is filed, the county entities that come into play include the court of common pleas, the clerk of courts, and the county prosecutor.  The number of requests that might be filed annually for post-conviction DNA testing is likely to be relatively small and the number of incarcerated inmates that might actually be approved for such tests would be a noticeably smaller subset of the number of applications filed.  Assuming that were true, to the degree that any of these aforementioned entities incur tangible costs, they appear unlikely to exceed minimal annually.

·        Appeals.  Counties may incur additional costs related to appeals in the sense that prosecutors and possibly public defenders would have to provide written briefs and oral arguments before the appropriate court of appeals.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not been able to put a price tag on such costs, but to the degree that those costs might actually manifest themselves, the available evidence suggests that they would not be significant.

 


 


 

Detailed Fiscal Analysis

 

Post-conviction DNA testing

 

            For the purposes of this fiscal analysis, the bill most notably:

 

·        Removes the time period during which an inmate was authorized to file an application for DNA testing under the existing procedure for DNA testing, and by doing so permits an inmate to file an application for DNA testing at any time if the inmate satisfies the other requirements in current law.

·        Permits an inmate to file an application for DNA testing regardless of when the offense for which the inmate was incarcerated was committed.

·        Declares an emergency.

 

Current law and practice

 

Pursuant to Sub. S.B. 11 of the 125th General Assembly, certain incarcerated offenders were given a limited time period in which to apply for post-conviction DNA testing.  These offenders were required to:  (a) have been incarcerated prior to October 29, 2003, and (b) file for DNA testing before October 29, 2004.  That bill was silent on who would pay for the one-time post-conviction DNA tests.  It was also noted at that time the cost for a post-conviction DNA test averaged $1,500.  Substitute House Bill 525 of the 125th General Assembly extended the time period to request DNA testing by one year to October 29, 2005.

 

A staff member of the Office of the Attorney General has previously reported to LSC fiscal staff that, as of March 1, 2006, 307 applications for post-conviction DNA testing had been filed.  Of those applications, 220 had been denied, 15 were granted, and 72 were pending.  At this time, however, LSC fiscal staff has been unable to discern how many post-conviction DNA tests may have been conducted, at what cost, and paid by whom.

 

Future post-conviction DNA testing costs

 

After conferring with various individuals associated with criminal justice issues, LSC fiscal staff has come to the conclusion that, generally speaking, if DNA evidence is relevant and available, it has been, and continues to be, routinely tested for the purposes of establishing an individual's guilt or innocence.  Therefore, the population of inmates that meets the criteria for post-conviction DNA testing due to the bill – in other words, inmates that have been incarcerated since October 29, 2003 – presumably includes a relatively large number for whom DNA testing would already have been used.  Assuming that were true, then the number of requests that might be filed annually for post-conviction DNA testing is likely to be relatively small and the number of incarcerated inmates that might actually be approved for such tests would be a noticeably smaller subset of the number of applications filed. 

 

Current law, unchanged by the bill, appears to be silent on who would pay for the post-conviction DNA tests.  That said, whether counties or the state pays for those DNA testing costs, they are not likely to exceed minimal annually. In the case of a county, minimal means an estimated cost of no more than $5,000 per year, and in the case of the state, minimal means an estimated cost of no more than $100,000 per year.  Also of note is that, under the existing post-conviction DNA testing law, it appears that the Office of the Attorney General has opted to cover the costs associated with performing a post-conviction DNA test.  Assuming the practice continues subsequent to the bill's enactment, then the Attorney General would cover the post-conviction DNA testing costs, thus relieving any affected counties of that expense.

 

Application process

 

Whenever an application for post-conviction DNA testing is filed, the county and state entities that come into play include the court of common pleas, the clerk of courts, the county prosecutor, and the Attorney General.  As noted, the number of requests that might be filed annually for post-conviction DNA testing is likely to be relatively small and the number of incarcerated inmates that might actually be approved for such tests would be a noticeably smaller subset of the number of applications filed.  Assuming that were true, to the degree that any of these aforementioned entities incur tangible costs, they appear unlikely to exceed minimal annually.

 

Appeals

 

Under current law, unchanged by the bill, if an eligible inmate submits an application for DNA testing and the common pleas court rejects the application that judgment is subject to appeal. 

 

Courts of Appeals

 

            If the inmate were not under sentence of death, the appeal would be made to the court of appeals of the district in which the court rendering the judgment is located.  There are 12 courts of appeals in Ohio, the judges of those courts are paid from the state treasury, and many of the court's employees, e.g., reporters, law clerks, secretaries, and other necessary employees are paid from the state treasury as well. 

 

As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not gathered any evidence suggesting that the number of appeals that may result from the bill will generate any discernible effect on the caseloads and related annual operating costs of the courts of appeals.

 

            Counties

 

Counties may also incur additional costs related to such appeals in the sense that prosecutors and possibly public defenders would have to provide written briefs and oral arguments before the appropriate court of appeals.  As of this writing, LSC fiscal staff has not been able to put a price tag on such costs, but to the degree that those costs might actually manifest themselves, the available evidence suggests that they would not be significant.

 

 

LSC fiscal staff:  Deborah Hoffman, Budget Analyst

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