The logic of the Ohio prosecutors should be appalling to any reasonable person in this state. They aren't interested in justice, but in ruining lives. Hopefully now that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the AWA is punishment, they'll take it a step further and admit the law is CRUEL AND UNUSUAL punishment.
Man fights designation as a sexual offender
By Randy Ludlow
The Columbus Dispatch • Monday March 9, 2015 6:07 AM
Travis Blankenship is marked with what one judge describes as an undeserved “scarlet letter” — that of a sex offender.
Blankenship was 21, working part time at a department store and a few hours away from receiving his associate’s degree at Clark State Community College in Springfield when he had an affair with a 15-year-old girl.
But the illicit relationship did not remain secret, and he was arrested. A psychologist found he was not a sex offender, did not require treatment and was unlikely to commit another offense.
A judge likewise did not consider Blankenship much of a threat, sentencing him in 2012 to serve 12 days of a six-month sentence for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony.
But, under Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act, Blankenship automatically was declared a Tier II sex offender, requiring him to register his address, employment and other information with the sheriff for the next 25 years.
His public defender will argue before the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday that mandatory sex-offender registration constitutes cruel and unusual punishment when it is “grossly disproportionate” to the offender’s character and crime.
Ohio prosecutors, including Franklin County’s Ron O’Brien, counter that sex-offender registration justifiably protects the public and is “not shocking to any reasonable person in this state.”
Blankenship is appealing a 2-1 decision by the Second District Ohio Court of Appeals that upheld his classification as a sex offender, which before 2007 required a hearing and allowed judges to make the call.
Judge Mary Donovan was the dissenter, writing, “He was punished with a scarlet letter of 25 years duration ... grossly disproportionate to the crime committed.
“This classification carries significant restraints on Blankenship’s liberty and a social stigma that interferes with employability, travel and housing.”
Clark County Prosecutor D. Andrew Wilson counters that Blankenship’s conduct was “typical of grooming behavior by sexual predators.”
“Blankenship engaged in sexual intercourse with a young and impressionable 15-year-old girl when he was an adult. This is a clear violation of the law,” his office argues.
“Registration is by no means shocking. Rather it is a consolation and comfort to the families and victims of sexual offenses.”
O’Brien filed a friend-of-the-court brief, saying automatic sex-offender classification and registration is legal. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that offender registration does not constitute punishment, he said.
“If it’s not punishment, it can’t be cruel and unusual,” O’Brien said.
However, Katherine Ross-Kinzie, the assistant state public defender representing Blankenship, said the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s offender-classification scheme is punitive in nature.
“Decades of sex-offender registration requirements, restrictions, and consequences constitute cruel and unusual punishment for people like Travis,” she said.
In another case, the high court will hear arguments on Wednesday in the case of Dale Johnston, a Grove City man who spent seven years on Death Row after he was wrongly convicted of the 1982 murders of his stepdaughter and her fiance.
He is asking the justices to reverse a Franklin County Court of Appeals ruling that threw out a trial judge’s finding that he was illegally detained for the dismemberment slayings in Hocking County. Such a finding is required to allow Johnston to seek damages for wrongful imprisonment from the state.