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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
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -
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.