Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ohio Senator Already Planning to Get Around Supreme Court Ruling Court: New sex offenders may avert notification.

The Ohio Supreme Court has delivered a setback to efforts by state lawmakers to apply the tough new sex offender notification requirements laid out in the federal Adam Walsh Act. Lawmakers had intended for communities to be notified every time a sex offender in the most severe category began living, working or going to school in their neighborhoods. But the high court found that the state law's language conflicts with that intention.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the court ruled that sex offenders classified in the most dangerous category after the law took effect Jan. 1, 2008, can still avoid the new community reporting requirements under exceptions similar to those in Ohio's old law.

The ruling leaves it up to a trial court's discretion whether a newly classified sex offender's whereabouts will be provided to neighbors, schools and certain volunteer organizations and businesses as provided by the new law, he said.

"The way the state of Ohio was arguing, it was that if you're a Tier III sex offender you're automatically having community notification; there's no discretion whatsoever," Prusak said. "But it's not like they just left out a word or so. The way the entire statute is written, it's giving the trial court that discretion."

Sen. Tim Grendell, chairman of the Judiciary Committee on Criminal Justice, said Thursday he'll introduce a bill to fix the offending language.

We must all contact Senator Grendell immediately to stop him from drafting a new law which will impose community notification on all offenders.
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, Ground Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 644-7718

Sample letter:

"After today's Ohio Supreme Court ruling, it would seem reasonable that Ohio lawmakers would understand that this "piling on" of sex offender laws does have its limits.

Four consolidated cases involving Senate Bill 10 are still under review by the Ohio Supreme Court, which challenge its constitutionality.

We urge you NOT to pursue yet another bill regarding Senate Bill 10, which will increase restrictions and constraints on sex offenders in this state.

Stop the piling-on of sex offender laws in this state!"