Butler County Times Gazette
  • Ballinger gets lifetime post release supervision

  • Former Augusta Public Safety Officer Jerry Ballinger will have lifetime post release supervision following a decision by Butler County District Court Judge David Ricke Monday afternoon.
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  • Former Augusta Public Safety Officer Jerry Ballinger will have lifetime post release supervision following a decision by Butler County District Court Judge David Ricke Monday afternoon.
    This part of the sentencing was postponed until today after he was sentenced on April 7 in his plea agreement for one count of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
    At that time Ballinger's attorney, James Watts, had argued the constitutionality of the lifetime post release, which would send Ballinger back to prison for life if he ever commits a felony again.
    Ricke had wanted to review the arguments for and against this, as well as other cases before making a decision Monday.
    He took into consideration the three-part Freeman test, which includes:
    1. The nature of the offense and character of the defendant with regard to the degree of danger to society.
    2. Comparison of punishment with punishments imposed in this jurisdiction with more serious offenses.
    3. Comparison of the penalty with judgment in other jurisdictions for similar offenses.
    Looking at the first part of the test, Ricke said the offenses occurred within the context of a mentoring and friendship relation he developed with the victim over a period of time. Ricke said Ballinger's evaluation showed he presented a low risk for sexual recidivism but needed intervention.
    "The court finds this is a serious crime," Ricke said.
    In the second part of the test did not outweigh the first factor and in the third part Ricke found it was not cruel or unusual punishment.
    "It is not so disproportionate to the crime it shocks the conscious," he said. "The lifetime post release supervision period is proportionate in light of the strength of the first Freeman factor."
    Ricke pointed out this does subject Ballinger to the possibility of a lifetime prison sentence if convicted of a new felony.
    "For this to happen, he would have to commit and be convicted of a new felony crime," Ricke said. "Mr. Ballinger has total control over avoiding this."
    One other issue taken up was a request by the defense to alter the exception to no contact with kids under 16 except his children to include his other family.
    Ricke maintained the current restrictions and said he could be around the young family members if there was adult supervision.
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