Opinion: Blockchain Could Help Create Sentencing Database

As officials in Ohio continue to promote the idea of creating a centralized criminal-sentencing database for the state, stakeholders are now suggesting that new blockchain technology could be the answer.

by Other Voices, The Plain Dealer / January 10, 2020

(TNS) — I want to applaud the recent op-ed by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly and 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals Judge Ray Headen (“Create criminal-sentencing database for Ohio,” Jan. 8). They encourage Ohio to establish a centralized database to track all criminal sentences in the state. The Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission also supports establishing such a database, which could provide invaluable insight into sentencing practices. As judges, our goal in sentencing should be consistency, fairness, and impartiality.

One of the arguments against such a database is that Ohio courts use a variety of computer programs for their case management systems, and that precludes the data from being gathered and shared. I would argue that newer Blockchain technology might be the answer. There would be a cost involved, but Blockchain can absorb data from different systems and consolidate it without courts having to change their own data systems.

Our court’s mission statement is to “provide a forum for the fair, impartial and timely resolution of civil and criminal cases.” By having sentencing data to review, we could take an important step to ensure that every case is treated equally when it comes to deciding someone’s sentence.

John J. Russo,


John J. Russo is a judge in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and the immediate past administrative and presiding judge of the court.

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