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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman May 29, 2020

No, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not release 4,300 prisoners early due to COVID-19

If Your Time is short

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has not released 4,300 prisoners due to COVID-19 and there’s no evidence that he warned residents of a possible crime wave.

  • Ohio has released 129 inmates early due to COVID-19, according to DeWine’s staff.

A social media post is targeting Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine over prison releases amid COVID-19.

The May 16 Facebook post claims that DeWine "released 4,300 prisoners today! Now he is warning residents of possible crime wave! Seriously you can't fix STUPID!!"

This is inaccurate.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

DeWine has not authorized the release of 4,300 inmates, and we could not find any recent comments made by him that warn of a possible "crime wave." On the contrary, advocacy groups say DeWine hasn’t done enough to prevent illness in prisons amid the pandemic.

In mid-April, DeWine approved the release of 105 Ohio inmates who were within 90 days of completing their sentences as coronavirus cases swelled. None were convicted of violent offenses.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said prisoners would not be released if they test positive for COVID-19 unless they were handed off to a health care provider.

Daniel Tierney, DeWine’s press secretary, told PolitiFact that Ohio has released a total of 129 inmates early due to COVID-19. 

"This does not include any inmate whose sentence concluded or who was released due to a judicial order," Tierney said. "They were non-violent offenders who were either nearing the end of their sentence or who had served half their sentence AND had multiple COVID-19 comorbidities."

Meanwhile, on May 19, U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin ordered the Bureau of Prisons to expedite the release of 837 medically vulnerable inmates in the Elkton Federal Correctional Institute through home confinement or compassionate release. 

The ruling follows a class-action suit filed by four Ohio prisoners that accuses DeWine and the state’s prison director of violating their constitutional rights by failing to do more to prevent a deadly outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The Supreme Court has declined to block the judge's order.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims that DeWine released "4,300 prisoners" and is now warning residents of a possible crime wave.

We found no evidence that DeWine warned Ohioans of any impending crime wave, and he has released around 130 inmates who were either nearing the end of their sentences, or who had served half their sentences and had multiple underlying health conditions.

We rate this False.

Our Sources

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No, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not release 4,300 prisoners early due to COVID-19

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