Mass Incarceration: Victim Advocacy



You might think victims of crimes want perpetrators locked up for life, but that’s not always the case. In this installment of our series on mass incarceration, we’ll examine the role of the victim in Ohio’s criminal justice system. We’ll look at  rise of the victims’ rights lobby, and how victim testimony affects the chances for parole.


  • Kathleen Kovach, victim representative on the Ohio Parole Board
  • Elizabeth Well, legal clinic director of The Justice League of Ohio
  • David Singleton, Director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center
  • Donna Foster, seeking the parole of her son’s murderer


Listen to all parts of our Mass Incarceration series

#1:  The Social and Economic Costs

#2: Ohio’s Parole Board

#3: The Recidivism Rate

#4: Victim Advocacy

Join The Conversation

  • shannon

    Hello, my name is Shannon Barron, I am the wife of the man that Mrs. Foster was speaking about this morning Roosevelt Barron. I would like to say thank you Mrs. Foster & Epidemek. We loves you and you are one amazing woman! GOD has given you a purpose and has given Roosevelt a purpose and that is to help others.

    I have to comment on a few things first when my husband went in at 16 he was a child as Mrs. Foster said he was a child that was so impressionable and was intimidated by older men that gave him false love, and respect, then used him to do a murder, they turned that false love and respect into fear and threats to him and his family, they took a child and turned him into something that he was never meant to be, Roosevelt was to be in the major leagues, he was suppose to be great one day, these men destroyed this young boy! These grown men did not care about Roosevelt they only cared about trying to get out of a trail that Mr. James Foster was suppose to appear in, this is why those three men burned Mr. Foster, when they found that it didn’t work that’s when they got a 16 year old child do their dirty work by telling him that nothing would happen to him, feeding him drugs and feeding him alcohol to the point that Roosevelt didn’t even realize were he was or what he was doing. Those grown men took advantage of Roosevelt!

    I will say this Roosevelt is a grown man that has always from day one shown remorse for what happened, Roosevelt has never lied about anything that happened and has always been honest about the day that not only changed his life but changed Mrs. Foster’s as well, And Mrs. Foster said it best “there were two lives that were taken that day her son’s Mr., James Foster and Roosevelt Barron.

    Now the parole board and it is obvious that they do not listen to the victim’s family when the victim’s family is on the side of the person that committed the crime. The parole board only takes in account when the victim’s family doesn’t want the person out cause this gives the parole board a reason to deny and to justify their reason’s to keep them. (Job security for the parole board)
    Roosevelt has done some major self growth over the years and done so many things over the years that it really is amazing. The things that he has done over the years have been things from the “scared Straight programs” to taking all programs, not once, not twice but sometimes three times over, cause the parole board ask for him to do these things. and he has done what they have asked him to do.
    When the parole board tells Roosevelt to complete this program and that program they really have no intentions do not look at these programs, but Roosevelt does them anyway, and half the time they do not even have the correct paper work to show that these things have been done ” (I just went through this with them) paper work is lost and the parole board is using paper work that may not even be the inmates paper work The parole board keeps flopping these old law inmates that is in front of them, with sometimes the wrong paper work, wrong plea agreements, wrong programs and more. After the parole board went from the old way of keeping up with each inmates paper work , programs and court paper work to the new way, papers got transferred to other inmates file and again I just went through this Roosevelt has a plea agreement with the prosecutor and the judge, while this was made aware to the parole board the parole board has dismissed this fact till this year when the prosecutor questioned that board about it!!! now if that doesn’t show you that the parole board is being incompetent than nothing will!.


    The parole board puts up so many road blocks for these guys that its crazy, the parole board set up guidelines and programs and wants letters from staff giving them input on the inmate, but when the inmate ask for these things the facility stops the CO’s from doing it and then gives the inmates tickets such as ” establishing a relationship” for paper work that the parole board request! Now how is that fair and just and how is that helping the inmate, its not, its helping the parole board keep their jobs and keep these guys inside :”ROAD BLOCKS” that’s what is it…

    I could go on but I will bring this to an end and just know that this Wife will never stop and will never give up I will never back down, stand down, or break till my husband comes home! EPIDEMEK will stand behind me Mrs Foster will stand behind me and the community will stand behind me, we are just getting started and “THINGS WILL CHANGE” its time it change!

    • Penny MissinglovingbelongstoBi

      I agree my husband was just 17 turn 18 when he git into troubke he is thankfuk no one died but the parole board gave him.8 more years for the nature of crime which is what he was originakky sentenced for and the nature will never change. They should be held accountabke for the iver crowding in prisons so many men my husband being one are ready and rehabilitated to be out of prison but the parole board needs job security my.husband is old law. I wish someone would acrually.stand up for our husbands first time offenders and was a teenager …

      • shannon

        I am so sorry to hear about your husband. its sad that the parole board thinks that these guys don’t deserve a chance to be a proactive part of society. And they have been rehabilitated by the parole board guidelines, but the parole board ignores their request for these men to do these programs when it comes time for them to let them out. Why keep men that are rehabilitated in at the tax payers expense cause its job security for the parole board. I work with a origination that is called EPIDEMEK and we are all about getting the “old Law inmates” out. look us up on face book :) .. I feel really bad and it breaks my heart to hear so many stories of families that just don’t know where to turn to after a while families just throw there hands up cause they are so frustrated with the board giving false hope and promises to these men and the families telling them if he does this and that we will let out out in 2 years. Its not that the families doesn’t care, its the parole board that breaks these men’s sprit and breaks the family down so much that it does get to much to bare at times. I wish you the best of luck and like I said if you wish to reach out to EPIDEMEK you are more than welcome to.