AKRON - A proposed state law, modeled on a similar federal statute, would seek to put violent criminals behind bars for longer periods of time - while, at the same time, making sure it would only apply to the "worst of the worst."
Akron's police chief, Jim Nice, has been advocating for such a proposal, saying his officers keep arresting the same people over and over again.
"They're being arrested for having a loaded gun," Nice says, "and the police officers are stopping them and taking their gun. And they're home for dinner."
The new proposal would mandate a 2-year-prison term for any "felon in possession" of a firearm. In addition, it would create the label of "violent career criminal" - defined as anyone who has been convicted of two violent felonies in the past 15 years.
A third conviction in that time period would carry with it a mandatory 11-year prison sentence.
"It's narrowly focused on violent criminals," says State Senator Frank LaRose, an Akron Republican who supports the measure.
The proposal is based on a federal "felon in possession" law used by U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach. Right now, the United States is home to about five percent of the world's population, but has about 25 percent of its prisoners.
Dettelbach says the "felon in possession" laws can make the streets safer, but must be applied to a small group of people.
"We need to make sure it's the right people," he says, "the people who are violent, the people who are dangerous in our community."
Sen. LaRose adds that the Ohio Legislature has already passed a bill designed to get low-level non-violent convicts, especially drug users, out of prisons and into lesser expensive treatment options.