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Two sex offenders are challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that changes the classification, registration and notification requirements imposed on sex offenders, arguing that the changes cannot apply retroactively.
Lawyers with the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center filed suit Monday in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of the sex offenders, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the Ohio Public Defender and the Columbus-based Equal Justice Foundation.
At issue is Senate Bill 10, signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland this year and carrying changes that will be effective Jan. 1. It brings Ohio into compliance with the federal law known as the Adam Walsh Act, named after a 6-year-old Florida boy kidnapped from a shopping mall in 1981 and murdered.
The state and federal laws classify sex offenders in three tiers, based on the crime for which the offender was convicted and without considering the likelihood of re-offending.
Current state law requires less registration time -- 10 years is the current minimum -- and classifies sex offenders based on their likeliness to commit another sex crime.
The sex offenders suing are two female former prison workers who pleaded guilty to having consensual sex with inmates. Both were designated sexually oriented offenders, the lowest classification, now requiring 10 years' registration.
The changes in law mean both will be reclassified and required to register for the rest of their lives.
Lawyer David Singleton argued that neither is a community danger. "Labeling them the 'worst of the worst' offenders dilutes the purpose of the registry and will subject them and their families to public hostility and ridicule," he said in a news release.
This is the second constitutional challenge of the state's sex-offender laws that Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, has filed with the state Supreme Court.
The high court heard oral arguments last week on a challenge to the state law forbidding registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. A sex offender who was forced in 2005 to leave the home he bought in 1991 because it is too close to a school argues that the 2003 law cannot apply retroactively.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
OH - Ex-prison workers challenge update of sex-offender law
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