Friday, July 14, 2017

Dayton Daily News reports on the Ohio Recodification Committee's recommended changes to the RC laws

It isn't too much but it IS a start. However, there's no guarantee that the legislature will make the changes, so our work is far from done.

Katie Wendell states in the article some victims' groups oppose it but didn't quote anyone but a sheriff's deputy.

Overhaul could drop thousands from sex offender registry
Some argue putting label on sex offenders has little public benefit.
POLITICS By Katie Wedell - Staff Writer    48

Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, July 14, 2017

Two decades after Ohio began labeling sex offenders on a public database and setting restrictions on where they can live, a major overhaul to the law is being proposed that could drop thousands of lower-level offenders off the list

Some critics are even calling for doing away with the registry entirely, saying it’s been an expensive effort with little benefit to the public.

The Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee — tasked with overhauling Ohio’s criminal code — delivered recommendations to the state Senate last month that they say will save local sheriffs’ departments money on administration while ensuring the most serious offenders are still monitored.

The committee, in its notes on the changes, says the goal was to give judges more discretion on whether to put low-level offenders on the registry and, “to prioritize registration for those who remain a danger to the community and not to dilute the registry with offenders who no longer remain a danger to reoffend.”

Ohio currently has more than 17,000 individuals on the sex offender registry. Less than a third are labeled Tier III, the highest tier, meaning they committed crimes like rape of children, sexual battery or murder with sexual motivation.

Opponents of registration have long argued that it does more harm than good to keep those who have served their time from re-integrating into society, and they say the registry unfairly labels people who commit low-level, non-violent crimes.

“It’s the greatest reform we’ve seen in Ohio since registration originally came to be,” Barb Wright, founder of Families and Individuals for Reform, said of the committee’s report.

Residency restrictions, which currently bar sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or day care, have been a particularly hot button issue and the committee recommends getting rid of them.

“Empirical data shows there is no evidence to support that residency restrictions impact public safety,” the committee’s notes say.

In 2015 state supreme courts in California and Massachusetts struck down local residency laws that cities and counties had imposed. Texas also does not have a statewide residency rule, but numerous cities that enacted limits later withdrew them after challenges from reform groups.

“It poses huge hurdles for offenders, especially in the cities,” Wright said. “There’s literally no place that they can live.”

‘Should we have a registry at all?’

The Ohio ACLU called the recommendations an improvement, but said the committee fell far short of the sweeping reforms promised when it was formed by then Senate President Keith Faber.

“Should we have a registry at all?” said ACLU Chief Lobbyist Gary Daniels. “We should be having that discussion.”

The 24-member, bi-partisan committee included prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, prison officials and others and met for two years before submitting its final set of recommendations. The plan maintains the current three-tier registration system, but allows for low-level offenders to avoid registration at a judge’s discretion, allows offenders to petition to get off the registry after a set amount of time, and moves some crimes to lower tiers.

The lower tiers have fewer restrictions.

“There’s a lot of consensus that the registry is over-inclusive and then it’s ineffective because of the number of people the sheriffs are required to monitor,” said Jill Beeler, appellate services director for the Ohio Public Defenders Office and a member of the recodification committee.

But some victims’ rights groups see the registry as a necessary piece of law enforcement’s ability to fight sexual violence.

“This is a big deal for them,” said Sgt. Julie Stephens, head of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Unit.

Stephens said victims often call her detectives upset when their attacker is no longer on the registry.

More judicial discretion

Under the committee’s recommendations, a judge would determine whether Tier I and Tier II offenders need to register.

For Tier II offenders, a group whose crimes include unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, there would be a presumption in favor of registration for 25 years, according to the committee’s report.

Tier I offenders, whose crime categories include voyeurism, would be subject to registration only if a judge deemed them a danger to the community or likely to reoffend.

Ohio currently has more than 7,000 people on the registry who are labeled Tier I or the equivalent under rules prior to the Adam Walsh Act, the federal law in 2006 (adopted in Ohio in 2007) that directed states to classify sex offenders into three tiers based on the offense they committed.

The committee did not recommend any changes to Tier III offenders, who would have the same lifetime registration requirements as they do now.

But there likely will be fewer Tier III offenders because the committee recommended moving some offenses from Tier III to Tier II.

Sexual battery, felonious assault with sexual motivation, and rape except for the rape of a child would become Tier II offenses under the proposal.

Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor would move from Tier II down to a Tier I offense.

Recidivism rates questioned

One of the main arguments in favor of registration has been that neighbors should be informed of where sex offenders live because they pose a continued risk to society.

But opponents have long demanded evidence that sex offenders re-offend more often than convicted criminals. It’s not clear that they do.

A comprehensive Department of Justice study from the late 1990s found that within three years of prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders were rearrested for another sex crime, a higher percentage than the 1.3 percent for non-sex offenders.

But sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense — 43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders, according to the DOJ report.

The data was collected before Ohio began registering sex offenders in 1997.

The three-year recidivism rate for all Ohio offenders released in 2011 was 27.5 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Recidivism rates among sex offenders specifically wasn’t available.

Registration opponents say many of the sex offender arrests are for non-sex crimes, including failure to register.

The recodification committee recommends making a first offense for failure to register a misdemeanor, with only subsequent violations resulting in a felony.

“There are high risk offenders, and I recognize that society wants a way to keep track of those people,” Wright said. “Unfortunately these other low-risk offenders get caught in the snare.”

She said low-level sex offenders can end up committing further crimes down the road because they are unable to find steady housing and employment due to the stigma of registration.

Local law enforcement sees things differently.

“We often see low level offenders re-offending,” Stephens said. Particularly they see Tier I offenders convicted for child pornography committing the same offenses again. And Stephens said those crimes are not victimless, as offenders often use children known to them in their crimes.

“I don’t know how much it changes a person’s behavior, but at least we know where to find them if they have reoffended,” she said. “At least we have some type of control and at least we’re letting people know where they want to be cautious.”

Ability to deregister

Another change would allow sex offenders the ability to petition to get off the registry after a certain amount of time.

The petition could be filed after five years for Tier I offenders, 10 years for Tier II and 15 years for Tier III.

A judge would be able to order a risk assessment of the offender and hold a hearing, if necessary, to decide whether to grant or deny the request.

Wright’s son is on the registry for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor due to what she says was a consensual relationship with a younger girlfriend when they were teens. She sees the ability to deregister as a good thing.

“There are just so many people on the register that don’t belong there,” she said. “(The committee) recognizes the cost and they recognize that there is capacity for rehabilitation.”

Josh and Jennah Strader of Beavercreek also have spoken in favor of reforms.

They were 19 and 14 when she became pregnant with their first child. A decade later they are married with three children, but Josh — now 28 — remains a Tier II registered sex offender because of his conviction for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

“If he’s able to get off the registry, it would tremendously change our lives in such a positive way,” Jennah Strader said in December. “He would be able to be the father that he wants to be that he can’t be now.”

Under the proposed changes, Strader would be able to immediately petition a judge to get off the registry.

If the changes are adopted, it will be illegal for anyone age 13 or younger to have sex with an adult over 18, but anyone 14 and up could have consensual sex with an older teen or an adult as long as there is only a five year age difference or less.

“When children of similar age engage in consensual activity, criminally charging youths for such behavior is generally not appropriate,” the committee wrote in its notes. “These changes ensure that the vulnerable are protected, predators are punished, and youthful indiscretions do not carry a lifetime of unwarranted consequences.”

There is no timetable for when the Senate will act on the recommendations, which are included in hundreds of other changes to the Ohio criminal code.

Beeler said the committee has been given no indication if the recommendations will be taken on as a whole or split into smaller bills.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summary of Ohio Recodification Committee recommendations relevant to RCs

Below is the intro to a 27-page summary of Recod Committee proposed changes passed along by Ohio RSOL. I do have the full report but I'm waiting for confirmation to share it online. [Disclaimer: There are only recommendations. This isn't a guarantee this will become law.] --

Welcome to Recod Cliff Notes, Round 2! This is my second attempt to make sense of the more than 4,000 pages of the proposed draft legislation by the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee. In order to provide a concise summary of relevant provisions, I concentrated on major revisions to sex crimes and registration. But changes have been made which affect sentencing, and in murder, kidnapping and abduction offenses which can lead to registration.

For the “plain text” version,, go to:  or to for the actual legislative draft.
Definitions for the entire Title 29 of the Revised Code have been moved to Section 2901.01 and are presented in alphabetical order. This proposal includes revised definitions of “eligible offender” for the purpose of a filing a petition for termination of registration under 2950.15, “sexually oriented offenses,” among others, and distinguishes between “Tier I, II and III offenses” and “Tier I, II, and III registrants.”  A few of these definitions are included below.

Sex Crimes

Several sex crimes have been modified to change the statutory age difference between an accused and his accuser to 5 years before he is criminally liable. Others have been modified to provide a standard of “known or should have known,” as in mistaken belief as to the age of the minor. Still others remove the marital exception as a defense to a sex crime (rape), while others retain that as an element of the crime. A brief summary of these changes is shown below.

Changes to SORN allow relief in the following areas:

  1. Several offenses have been re-classified as lower tier offenses.
  2. New Tier I and II registrants will be classified according to a risk assessment hearing. 
  3. The residency restriction has been removed for all offenders.
  4. The Attorney General is required to establish a centralized database.
  5. All existing (and future) offenders are entitled to petition for termination of registration responsibilities or re-classification of offense.
  6. The penalty for registration violations will be reduced to a misdemeanor offense for a first time sex offender, and a fifth degree misdemeanor for a repeat sex offender.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Registered citizen runs for Cleveland City Council and as usual, the local media goes crazy

I hope he wins, quite frankly. And shame on the Incompetent-Team at Faux 8 for spinning the story. Normally I redact the articles, but i think this guy WANTS to be public. Well, if he was running for Cincinnati City Council, he wouldn't have enough criminal convictions to be a candidate here. (Joking, folks)

I-Team finds candidate running for local office is convicted sex offender
POSTED 5:58 PM, MAY 25, 2017, BY ED GALLEK

CLEVELAND--The FOX 8 I TEAM has found a convicted sex offender running for Cleveland City Council.

Edward Hudson-Bey is gathering names on petitions to get on the ballot to represent Ward 10 on the city’s northeast side. So we went to see him. We asked why anyone should vote for him as a sex offender with other criminal convictions. He responded, "Your past is your past. It's where you are today and what you're looking for tomorrow.”

But when we revealed this to voters in the ward, we found them taken aback.

The ward includes Glenville and other neighborhoods -- poor areas with lots of violence. Current Councilman Jeff Johnson has a record for a federal corruption conviction. Yet Johnson is now running for mayor.

Hudson-Bey pleaded guilty to robbery in ’07. His sex offense conviction came in ’03 for sex with a minor, a 14-year-old boy. Hudson-Bey still has to register with the sheriff’s department as a sex offender. We also found Hudson-Bey has older convictions dealing with stolen cars.

The I TEAM wondered how can a guy like that even be eligible for a council seat? The state says, in general, Ohio law allows a convicted felon to run for office. However, it does not allow a convicted felon from taking office. Ultimately, what would happen if Hudson-Bey were to win could come down to a ruling by a local prosecutor or the state attorney general.

Hudson-Bey is just one of several candidates exploring a run for Cleveland City Council in Ward 10. Seems like an incredible long-shot, but Hudson-Bey believes, somehow, he can go from sex convict to councilman. He said, “Nobody’s perfect.” And he added, "I’m unbeatable. I'm honest. I'm open. I'm trustworthy."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Katie Wedell of Dayton Daily News feels RSOs is a bigger issue than a multiple shooting in nursing home

I'm grateful that at least the comment section responses is generally angry at the reporter for writing this article.

Based on the timeline of events by the same news outlet, it seems the shooter had a prior relationship to one of the victims, none of whom were the residents. Thus, their statuses are irrelevant to the story, because their only involvement in this story is being at the place where the crime occurred. It reminds me of the news stories focusing on the registrants in a trailer park rather than the non-RSO killer in the Aliahna Lemmon case.

What we know about the Pine Kirk Care Center in Kirkersville
Nearly half the small home’s residents are registered sex offenders.
By Katie Wedell
Updated: 12:46 p.m. Friday, May 12, 2017 |  Posted: 10:53 a.m. Friday, May 12, 2017

Kirkersville — The Pine Kirk Care Center nursing home in Kirkersville is a small facility of 24 beds. It had 23 residents at its last inspection by the state. 

The Kirkersville Police Chief and two employees of the home were killed today when a gunman entered the nursing home and them killed himself.

The home is rated as average for health and fire safety inspections and nursing levels on’s Nursing Home Compare tool, which compiles inspection reports of licensed nursing homes from each state. 

In late 2016, when the Dayton Daily News did an investigation into sex offenders living in Ohio nursing homes, there were 10 residents living at Pine Kirk who were on the Ohio sex offender registry. Their crimes ranged from gross sexual imposition to rape of children. 

Some crimes were decades old, while others occurred within the past 10 years. 

A search of the registry today showed there are currently nine residents who are registered sex offenders. 

There was also a complaint inspection done at the home a year ago after one resident hit another resident with a cane, resulting in the victim being admitted to the hospital intensive care unit. 

Pine Kirk has not received any federal fines or denials of Medicare payments in the past three years, according to the Medicare page. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Ohio finally decides to ban bestiality after cop from Virginia makes dubious claim of link between bestiality and CSA

No folks, this isn't The Onion. That was my first thought, too. I don't have a problem with a bestiality ban, but where I do take offense is the testimony from Fairfax Virginia Police Detective Jeremy Hoffman. His entire argument is based on his "personal observations. (In the Concord NH Monitor, Hoffman claims, “These people not only choose a victim who had no voice, they chose victims who would never have a voice. During my investigations in Virginia for sexual offenses related to animals, evidence was obtained showing that out of 20 offenders, five had committed sexual offenses against children, six possessed or had possessed child pornography, three solicited sex from a minor, and at least one committed sexual offenses against adults.”)

This isn't a sex crime law; however, the manner in which this bill passed is cringe-worthy, and this story hit the AP so it was reposted across America.

Sex with animals in Ohio officially illegal
POLITICS By Lynn Hulsey - Staff Writer

Updated: 12:32 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, 2017 |  Posted: 11:04 a.m. Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It is no longer legal in Ohio to have sex with animals.
Ohio’s law banning bestiality went into effect Tuesday.

“It’s a crime that defies explanation to the rational person,” said Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. “We’re dealing with a different species.”

Previous efforts in 2011 and 2015 to ban it did not gain enough support in the Ohio General Assembly so Ohio was one of the few states that didn’t have an actual law on the books outlawing bestiality.

The bestiality ban finally got enough votes to pass in December after being folded into a bill that also bans local jurisdictions from raising the minimum wage or regulating pet stores.

The new bestiality ban:

* Prohibits a person from engaging in sexual conduct with an animal and related acts.

* Provides for the seizure and impoundment of an animal that is the subject of a violation.

* Authorizes a sentencing court to require an offender to undergo psychological evaluation or counseling.

* Makes bestiality a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

State Senators Jim Hughes, R-Upper Arlington, and Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, sponsored the bill banning bestiality. Hughes had been trying since 2011 to get a ban in place and was supported by a variety of animal welfare groups.

“I think this is something that is sickening and perverse and we don’t want Ohio to be the place you can come and have sex with an animal,” Hughes, R-Upper Arlington, said in an earlier interview.

Eight states and Washington D.C. still do not have laws against sexual conduct with animals.

Officials in those states might be more likely to ban sex with animals if they realized the connections between bestiality and child sex abuse, said aid Fairfax Virginia Police Detective Jeremy Hoffman, who spent years focused on internet crimes against children.

“I found that people who were engaged in crimes against children were also engaged in sexual crimes against animals,” Hoffman said. “It was people from everyday walks of life. There was no stereotype that you could pin to any of them.”

Like children, animals are incapable of consent and unable to tell on their abuser, said Hoffman.

He and Kumpf said state’s may mistakenly think animal cruelty laws are enough. But Kumpf said abused animals do not always sustain the kind of injuries that would lead to a cruelty conviction. The one case he recalls where the county confiscated a dog that had allegedly been sexually assaulted by a male resulted dismissal of the charges.

“It’s important that we have this as one of the tools in the box to deal with folks,” said Kumpf.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Victim cultist uses "sex offender" registry to promote "violent offender" registries

The article states, "“The s*x offender registry that was put into place by legislators worked just like it was meant to that night,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Law enforcement had contact with the offenders in our area, within hours after Sierah went missing."

If anything, this passage proves the registry is a COMPLETE FAILURE. We wasted time on people who had NOTHING to do with the offense. Registered citizens and their families were harassed by police and all for nothing. Just like the s*x offender registry, this proposed violent offender registry will be no less useless. Think of how many more folks will be unnecessarily harassed every time a crime occurs? Statistically speaking, both s*x offenses and violent offences like the crime Sierah faced are mostly committed by someone the victim knows.

Enough with poorly devised laws named after victim. Megan's FLAW is bad public policy, and Sierah's Law will be just as flawed.

Slain woman's mother lobbies for violent-offender registry 

Published on March 14, 2017 | Updated 4:44 p. m.

COLUMBUS — Sheila Vaculik told an Ohio Senate committee that she doesn’t know whether her daughter, Sierah Joughin, would be alive today if her family had known someone with a violent criminal record was living nearby.

But she argued today that law enforcement should have had that tool when Ms. Joughlin, of Metamora, set out on her bicycle the evening of July 19 for her boyfriend’s house. She never arrived.

Family, friends, and police accessed the state’s sex offender registry list and drove past homes hoping for some sign of Ms. Joughin.

“The sex offender registry that was put into place by legislators worked just like it was meant to that night,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Law enforcement had contact with the offenders in our area, within hours after Sierah went missing.

“But unfortunately, the man indicted for this crime was not on any list or registry,” she said.

Family and friends then asked for a list of violent offenders.

“We were told no such database exists,” said Howard Ice, Ms. Sierah’s uncle and her employer while she was interning in human resources at Ice Industries.

“The information is out there, but it is in every courthouse across the state, listed by case number, not by criminal,” he said. “Unbelievably, even the FBI did not have access to this kind of centralized information.”

Senate Bill 67, sponsored by Sens. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) and Cliff Hite (R., Findlay), would require Attorney General Mike DeWine to develop such a database by the end of this year. But it leaves many decisions to the attorney general as to how “Sierah’s Law” would work.

It remains unclear whether Ms. Joughin’s accused killer, James D. Worley, 57, would have had to register under a similar law because his prior abduction conviction in Lucas County occurred 26 years earlier.

Five other states maintain registries of the whereabouts of offenders with certain violent pasts. Ohio already maintains registries for sex offenders and arsonists.

Worley, of rural Delta, faces trial on Jan. 16 and potentially the death penalty in the abduction and murder of Ms. Joughin, 20, who was about to enter her junior year at the University of Toledo. Her body was found in a shallow grave off County Road 7 three days after the abduction. She’d been handcuffed and died of asphyxiation.

The grave was found after someone in Fulton County law enforcement remembered the criminal past of a local “strange, reclusive man,” as Mr. Ice put it.

“Would my daughter have been found Wednesday alive instead of Friday in a shallow grave seven miles from our home?” Ms. Vaculik asked. “I will never know the answer to that question, and that is the subject of my nightmares."

Worley faces charges of murder, kidnapping, abduction, aggravated robbery, possession of criminal tools, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, and possession of weapons while prohibited from doing so.

Indiana, Illinois, Montana, Kansas, and Oklahoma have violent-offender registries, but they differ in which crimes qualify and the process as to how registrants may seek to be removed from the lists.

Under the bill, Mr. DeWine would determine what crimes would be included, what information would be maintained, how the on-line registry would be accessed, and whether it should be merged with existing sex offender and arson registries.

Sen. Peggy Lehner (R., Kettering), a committee member, questioned whether a registry accessible to law enforcement rather than to the general public would meet the goal. The sex offender registry is publicly available. The arson registry is not.

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said he would prefer that it be public, “just from the standpoint that knowledge is power and people should know.”

“It is, but sometimes people misuse that knowledge,” Ms. Lehner said. “It seems to me what your goal here is for law enforcement to actively search, and that would be served well by just having the registry without potentially causing isolation…You know what we could end up doing. We could end up creating crime in and of itself.”

The bill lists several crimes that “may” be included — aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, abduction, and conspiracy or attempted conspiracy to commit such crimes.

Contact Jim Provance at: or 614-221-0496.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Changes in the 132nd Genral Assembly and new bill update

Courtesy of Ohio RSOL:

Several changes have occurred in the 132nd General Assembly:

Republicans now have a 66-33 super-majority in the House, and a 24-9 super-majority in the Senate, meaning Republicans can override a governor’s veto

(Changes/legislation which may impact upon rights of sex offenders shown with a *)

*House Criminal Justice Committee Replaces House Judiciary Committee
Nathan Manning (R) chairs the new House Criminal Justice Committee
Jeff Rezebek (R)-Vice Chair
Greta Johnson (D)-Ranking Democrat
Republican Members: Jim Butler, Margaret Conditt, Robert Cupp, Laura Lanese, Robert McColley, Dorothy Pelanda, Bill Seitz
Democratic Members: Bernadine Kennedy Kent, Bill Patmon, John Rogers

*Representative Butler Chairs House Civil Justice Committee
Jim Hughes (R)-Vice Chair
Ranking Democrat-Kristin Boggs
Republican Members-Jonathon Dever, Theresa Gavarone, Laura Lanese, Bill Seitz, Nathan Manning, Robert McColley, Jeff Rezebek
Democratic Members-Nicholas Celebrezze, Brigid Kelly, Emilia Strong Sykes

*Senate Judiciary Committee Replaces Senate Criminal Justice Committee
Kevin Bacon (R)-Chair
Matt Dolan (R)-Vice Chair
Cecil Thomas-Ranking Democrat
Republican Members-William Coley, John Eklund, Matt Huffman, Peggy Lehner, Scott Oelslager
Democratic Members-Sean O’Brien, Mike Skindell

Pro-Victim Legislation/Constitutional Amendments Introduced/To Be Introduced

HB30/SB20-Add 3-8 years to prison term if person convicted of felony offense of violence permanently disables victim (HB30 adds specification that victim was under 6 years old)
HB38-Increase penalty for murder or assault of peace officer, member of military, or first responder

SB-Allow additional 14 days for prosecution to bring criminal cases

Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center proposes constitutional amendment to provide Ohio Crime Victim Bill of Rights (notification to victim of all legal proceedings-see


SB33-Disclosure law enforcement data to defendant

SB4-Person with serious mental illness convicted of aggravated murder cannot be subject to death penalty

Juvenile offender parole-Juvenile offenders subject to long sentences/ life sentences to be eligible for parole (died in Senate last session, but see Ohio SC ruling in State v. Moore that consecutive life sentences for juveniles violate Eighth Amendment cruel & unusual punishment)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Columbus Dispatch's truthful headline "Recidivism for sex offenders low" somehow didn't implode the Universe

Front page news headline finally publishes what we have been saying for decades, and it was in the Columbus Dispatch, in Ohio's biggest city. I bet it is an engineering feat to be brave enough to publish one of the best headlines EVER. 

Below is the full story.

Ohio State student slaying an anomaly; few sex offenders repeat crime

By John Futty 
The Columbus Dispatch 

After his conviction for attempted rape in 2011, Brian L. Golsby was required to participate in a sex-offender treatment program in prison.

The specific program he entered, how he performed and whether he was seen as a high risk for re-offending, though, are all confidential under Ohio law.

Whatever treatment Golsby received, police say it didn't stop him from the Feb. 8 abduction, rape and slaying of Reagan Tokes, a 21-year-old Ohio State University student. Golsby has been linked to the crime through DNA that was on file from his previous conviction.

Tokes' death occurred three months after Golsby, 29, was released from prison for that 2011 attack, in which he was accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex at knifepoint in a Grove City parking lot.

The Golsby case represents the public's worst fears about convicted sex offenders — that they don't respond to treatment and will strike again if released.

But those are myths, reinforced whenever such cases get extensive media coverage, said Melissa Hamilton, a law professor who has written extensively about sex offenders.

"These incredibly horrible stories occur, the media picks them up and the public reacts," she said. "It stokes fears of sex offenders as people who are likely to re-offend. But the statistics don't support it."

Hamilton, a visiting criminal-law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center, said one of the most comprehensive studies on sex offenders was issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003. It tracked more than 9,000 sex offenders released from prisons in 15 states, including Ohio, in 1994. Three years after their release, 5.3 percent of the offenders had been arrested for another sex crime.

"I wouldn't characterize that as high-risk," Hamilton said.

The sex offenders who were most likely to offend again were men whose victims were boys, not adults, the study found.

Two years ago, Ohio prison statistics showed that 11 percent of released sex offenders returned to prison on sex charges, compared with a recidivism rate of 28.7 percent for all inmates.

The Justice Department study made a similar finding: "Sex offenders in the study had a lower overall re-arrest rate than non-sex offenders."

But Scott Matson, acting deputy director of the Justice Department's Sex-Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking office, cautioned that recidivism is hard to measure because so many sex crimes go unreported.

"We don't know the true recidivism rate," Matson said.

Research has shown that treatment for sex offenders can be effective, but not all treatment programs are the same, he said.

The most effective programs, Matson said, are based on the individual needs of each offender and that offender's risk of re-offending.

That appears to be the model now used in the Ohio prison system, which worked with the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute on a pilot program in 2012 aimed at improving its sex-offender treatment.

The idea is "to match treatment services to the risk level of the offender," said Mindy Schweitzer, deputy director of the institute. "Someone who is low risk to re-offend would receive less intense treatment than someone at moderate or high risk."

All sex offenders who enter the Ohio prison system are transferred to the Sex Offender Risk Reduction Center at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, according to the department's written policies.

Following an assessment, each inmate is categorized by risk level. Those rated as low and medium-low risk for re-offending receive what's known as basic education programming at the reception center.

Those labeled medium-high or high risk are transferred to a prison that offers a comprehensive sex-offender program.

Department records show that Golsby was transferred from the reception center to the Madison Correctional Institution, which is identified as one of four prisons that offer the comprehensive program.

Those who refuse to participate can face discipline ranging from restrictions on commissary privileges to an increased security level.

"Though these penalties are available, the department has experienced little resistance from inmates and has had to use very few of these measures," the state's Correctional Institution Inspection Committee said in a 2015 report.

According to the department's policy document, the purpose of the treatment program is "reducing the risk of sex re-offending, thereby enhancing public safety and future risk to victims."

At the end of business Friday, department officials hadn't responded to an email message asking how the department measures whether that goal is being met.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cleveland 19 featuring Ohio RSOL: State committee to vote on registry changes

Great job by Ohio RSOL in this report.

Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

State committee to vote on sex offender registry changes
Tuesday, November 15th 2016, 10:11 pm EST
Tuesday, November 15th 2016, 10:44 pm EST
Posted by Shelby Miller, Cleveland 19 reporter

Does Ohio's current sex offender registry work? It's a question many people struggle to answer.

"That registry could create a false sense of security. It's not the only way to look at community safety," said Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Executive Director Katie Hanna.

Just a few years after Ohio altered its sex offender registry, state Criminal Justice Recodification Committee members are set to vote on a new set of guidelines that could potentially allow judges to shorten or remove low risk re-offenders.

The proposal is scheduled to be voted on Thursday.

"What you're talking about is an 18-year-old boy who was a high school senior who had sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend who's on the registry for 25 years," said Ohio Reform Sex Offender Laws Volunteer Barb Wright.

Wright said there are more than 20,000 registered sex offenders in Ohio. 

"The law enforcement can't keep track of all the people," she said. 

Ohio uses a three-tier offender system. People are placed in each tier based on how serious their offense is. 

Tier I offenses include acts such as, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, voyeurism, and child enticement. Tier II offenses include acts such as, compelling prostitution, child endangering, and kidnapping with sexual motivation. Tier III offenses include acts such as, rape, sexual battery, and murder with sexual motivation. 

The Tier classification system requirements are as follows:

Tier I: Sex offenders must register with the County Sheriff at least once annually for a period of 15 years. In addition, must register any change of residential address, place of employment, or enrollment in a school or institution of higher education.
Tier II: Sex offenders must register with the County Sheriff every 180 days for a period of 25 years. In addition, must register any change of residential address, place of employment, or enrollment in a school or institution of higher education.
Tier III: Sex offenders must register with the County Sheriff every 90 days for life. In addition, must register any change of residential address, place of employment, or enrollment in a school or institution of higher education.
Tier III sex offenders are also subject to community notification, which means upon a change of residential address, the County Sheriff will provide notice to a neighborhood within 1,250 feet of the sex offenders residential address. The County Sheriff will also provide notice to schools, registered day-care providers, and law enforcement agencies within the 1,250 ft. radius.

"Right now the registration process is very complicated and we want to make sure it's a system that those high risk offenders aren't falling through the cracks, that they're being monitored," said Hanna. 

Hanna said the coalition hasn't taken a stance on the proposal because they want survivors involved. 

"It isn't just about community safety, which is important to us, it's about survivor safety," she said. "We need to make sure survivors are at the center of this conversation, survivors who've been directly impacted by the violence that they've endured."

The 4,000 page proposal outlines a lot of issues, including whether or not registered sex offenders can live closer to spots, like schools, parks and playgrounds. 

The possible change worries many people, but Wright said the current restrictions don't do much. 

"The offender is out free to walk the streets, so the fact that he lives within 1,000 feet of a school is really irreverent as to if he spends any time there," she said. 

Funding is also an issue with the proposal. Currently, Ohio gets about $8 million in JAG money, or Justice Assistance Grants, because of the Adam Walsh Act. Some victim services worry they'd lose funding with the proposal, but others said the state would be profiting because counties would be paying less overall within the sex offender registry.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Proposed SO registry changes would be based on risk

A nod to Ohio RSOL

Proposed sex offender registry changes would be based on risk

Katie Wedell  Staff Writer
8:00 p.m Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016

Eight years after Ohio tightened its sex offender registration laws to comply with federal standards, a state committee is considering changes that could make it easier for sex offenders to get off the registry if they no longer are a threat to society.

Among other changes to Ohio’s criminal laws, the Criminal Justice Recodification Committee will vote Thursday on a set of changes already unanimously approved by the state’s Sentencing Commission, which is made up of county sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, victims advocates and lawmakers.

The proposals include going from an offense-based classification system, in which offenders are assigned to a tier and given registration requirements based on the criminal offense they committed, to a more risk-based system in which judges would have more discretion.

The proposed changes would also allow sex offenders the ability to petition for a change of status after years of good behavior or due to a change in their risk level due to advanced age or illness.

Continued registration requirements for elderly or disabled offenders was one issue this newspaper addressed in an October investigation into sex offenders living in nursing homes.

The investigation found that while some individuals did pose a threat to vulnerable nursing home residents, there were also cases of ex-offenders in need of care being turned away from homes because of the stigma of their registration status.

“A lot of the discussion when we initially presented this was, the person who is clearly no longer a risk,” said Blaise Katter, staff attorney for the committee.

Medical conditions and advanced age would be key components judges could look at when considering whether to release someone from registration requirements, he said.

“We’re trying to bring in some common-sense changes that will hopefully maintain, of course, the community safety, but address other issues to make the registry effective,” said Jill Beeler, appellate services director for the Ohio Public Defenders Office and a member of the committee work group that helped draft the proposed changes.

Hybrid system

Currently, judges sentencing convicted sex offenders must place them into one of three tiers based on their crimes. And based on the tier they are assigned, individuals must register their address with their local sheriff for 15 years to life.

Some states, including Minnesota and Massachusetts, have similar tiered systems, but use risk assessments to determine in which tier an individual belongs. Lower tiers carry fewer restrictions and are reserved for offenders who are not likely to reoffend.

Beeler said the system being proposed in Ohio is a hybrid of the two approaches. The recommended changes will go to the state legislature, where a bill would need to be drafted and approved to make them law.

The current tier system would be retained. Tier I requires annual registration for 15 years; Tier II is semi-annual registration for 25 years, and Tier III is quarterly registration for life.

Tier III offenders would still get mandatory registration for life, but there would be fewer charges labeled Tier III: aggravated rape or rape of a child; kidnapping a minor to engage in sexual activity; aggravated murder or murder with sexual motivation; and repeat offenses if already a Tier II or Tier III classification.

For lower-tier offenses, a judge would have discretion whether to impose registration.

Once placed into a tier, registered sex offenders would have the ability to petition to deregister or move down a tier after a specified number of years — between 5 and 15 depending on the tier. If these changes are adopted, those convicted under previous versions of the law would also have the ability to petition for a change of status.

“I think it’s a good compromise,” said Barb Wright, a member of the Ohio chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws. The group has seen the recommended changes and approves of them, she said.

“I think in some areas it does not go far enough and we’ve expressed our concerns,” Wright said.

She’d like to see more retroactive applications so that someone recently convicted under the current law would have recourse to get their registration status changed.

Another recommendation of the committee is to remove all residency restrictions, such as barring sex offenders from living near schools.

“Empirical data shows there is no evidence to support that residency restrictions impact public safety; conversely, restrictions place significant burdens on offender’s ability to establish a support network and housing in order to become a productive member of society,” according to a summary of the proposed changes provided to this newspaper.

The committee is also calling for the implementation of a statewide offender database system “to replace the patchwork county-by-county system that has significant flaws and gaps.”

This newspaper’s investigation found inconsistencies in the amount of information available to the public on the registry pages maintained by county sheriffs. Some nursing homes said the lack of information made it difficult for them to assess if someone applying to live there posed a risk.

State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, who previously said he liked the idea of a more risk-based system and would like to see more detailed information available on the public registry, is eager to dig into the committee’s recommendations.

“There are some encouraging aspects such as judges having more discretion and looking at risk,” he said. “There’s a lot of detail that’s going to require a lot of vetting.”

Funds at stake?

When the Adam Walsh Act went into effect in 2006, states were given three years to update their laws to be in compliance.

Any states that missed that deadline and continued to be out of compliance faced an annual 10 percent cut in federal Justice Assistance Grants, used to fund local courts, crime labs, jails and other law enforcement programs.

Ohio was the first state to come into compliance with Senate Bill 10 in 2008. It moved the state from a risk-based system of classifying sex offenders to the current tier system that is based exclusively on the offense committed.

“I think there was a belief that many states would follow because there was a real motivation to move toward this offense-based system,” Beeler said.

Instead, Ohio is one of only 17 states currently in compliance with the federal law.

Beeler said there is a recognition by the committee that the proposed changes could take Ohio out of compliance and lead to a loss of federal funding.

“We feel like the cost of our current registration system is more than the dollars we would lose,” she said.

The money withheld from states that are not in compliance is split between the states that are, and paid in the form of bonus grants.

In fiscal year 2015, Ohio law enforcement agencies received a total allocation of $7.8 million in JAG money, plus a $106,000 bonus.

A loss of 10 percent plus the bonus would be about $880,000 annually, slightly more than the state spends each year on its share of 88 county sheriffs’ salaries.

“Those grants have actually been reduced over time,” Beeler said. “So 10 percent of that grant money is much less than the cost that we’re spending on our current system.”