Changes being discussed for current Marion law
By Michelle Rotuno-Johnson
MARION - City council’s legislation, codes and regulations committee has been discussing a proposed change to Marion’s sex-offender laws that is similar to laws several other cities have.
Josh Daniels, D-at large, is proposing legislation to keep offenders of all types away from places children might congregate.
Currently, sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of schools or daycares. The proposed legislation would prohibit sex offenders from living 1,500 feet from schools, daycares, the YMCA or YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, libraries, city-operated recreational facilities, and other “parks and areas known for the congregation of children.”
- So whether it's 1,000 or 1,500 feet, what difference does it make? How far someone lives from any of these places has no bearing on if they will re-offend. Most sexual abuse happens by family or close friends, not strangers at parks, libraries, etc. It's just another way for this up-and-coming politician to attach his name to something, and what better way to do that than to go after ex-sex offenders?
It also would prohibit offenders from entering public parks or other recreation facilities.
The city of Lyndhurst has a similar law on its books: registered offenders are not allowed to enter parks, playgrounds or recreational facilities unless they are there to attend a public meeting or vote at their assigned polling location. They also may not “enter or remain” at a school bus stop where school children are present. The Lyndhurst code includes recreational facilities as places where sex offenders cannot loiter.
In Canal Winchester, sex offenders cannot live within 1,500 feet of “any public or private school premise, licensed daycare facility, pre-school, private or public park or playground, library, or public swimming pool located within the Village.” The Village Solicitor has a cause of action for injunctive relief against the person (eviction). Lorain has a very similar ordinance in its books.
Cincinnati keeps the prohibited distance of 1,000 feet, but dictates sex offenders also cannot live near YMCA or YWCA facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs or any public recreational center or swimming pool owned or operated by the city or its boards or commissions.
Several Ohio cities have stricter regulations.
The law that prohibits sex offenders from living 1,000 feet from a school took effect July 31, 2003. Offenders who are juveniles do not have residency restrictions.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office keeps track of sex offenders once they get out of jail. Deputy Larry Yoder is in charge of registry, and said he and other deputies check in on the offenders several times a year to make sure they live at the address they gave the sheriff’s office.
If a sex offender moves too close to a school, Yoder said, he will find out when he enters the person’s address into the office database. He and Sheriff Tim Bailey said it can take weeks, or months, to get through all the civil paperwork when evicting someone.
Yoder said offenders who just got out of prison are most likely to move into a restricted area, as they may not be familiar with the laws.
“I tell them they need to move,” he said. “I give them a period of time.”
In the city, Law Director Mark Russel also is involved in the eviction process.
Offenders who completed their sentence before 1997 do not have to register, Yoder said. Offenders convicted from 1997-2007 are classified under legislation called Megan’s Law, which divides sex offenders into three tiers: sexually oriented offender, habitual sex offender and sexual predator.
The tiers decide how long a sex offender must register with the sheriff’s office in his or her county:
- Sexually-oriented offender: Registration once a year for 10 years;
- Habitual sex offender: Registration once a year for 20 years;
- Sexual Predator: Registration every three months for life. In 2008, the Adam Walsh Act went into effect. From Jan. 1, 2008 forward, sex offenders were divided into tiers with more aggressive reporting requirements:
- Tier One: Registration once a year for 15 years (10 years for juveniles);
- Tier Two: Registration twice a year for 25 years (20 years for juveniles);
- Tier Three: Registration every three months for life (this includes juveniles).
According to the Ohio State Bar Association, Tier Three offenders are considered the most serious. They include those who have been convicted for offenses such as rape, sexual battery, murder with sexual motivation, etc.
Tier Two offenders include those who have been convicted of offenses such as gross sexual imposition with a victim younger than 13 years old, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor when the offender is four or more years older than the victim.
Tier One offenders include those who have been convicted of offenses such as sexual imposition, voyeurism, and pandering obscenity.
Yoder said once an offender reaches the end of his or her registration, as ordered by the court, they no longer have to register as a sex offender.
He said schools, colleges and daycares are notified if a sex offender moves in or changes addresses anywhere in the county. Other businesses and homes are only notified if a Tier Three sex offender moves within 1,000 feet of that address.
He said he has tabs on all registered offenders in the county but one, who he believes moved out of state.
Bailey said it’s important to keep tabs on the offenders in the county.
- When most of them do not re-offend, despite the media lies, why is it important exactly?
The legislations, codes and regulations committee will discuss the proposed legislation on Monday. The proposed legislation would be severable, meaning if one section is deemed unconstitutional, the others would still be enforcable.
Daniels said he drew up the legislation after he found out he had two sex offenders in his neighborhood, close to a school. He said one had been there for more than a year. Both have since been evicted.
- So they were there more than a year? So did they commit any new crimes, or did you just freak out due to societies biasness, and raise the hysteria to force them to move?