Jim Letizia reports.
Council president Shannon Hardin first floated the proposal in December, saying current penalties disproportionately hurt young people of color. He says 60 percent of cases in Franklin County over the last two years involved black defendants. The city has yet to formally introduce related legislation. The hearing will focus on the criminal justice system as the panel decides whether to change local code or lobby Ohio lawmakers for statewide changes. Hardin says he supports following the lead of some other cities in reducing penalties, but is concerned about possible negative consequences. Council is also considering whether to increase funding for programs helping offenders clear their records and gain employment. The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at city hall.