Changing Rules in Middle of Game

May 4, 2009 (Ohio) : Local sex offenders face tougher reporting rules.

About half of Washington County’s 111 registered sex offenders are waiting on the state’s Supreme Court to decide if tougher reporting requirements enacted last year will stand.

Washington County Public Defender Ray Smith said 50 to 60 local sex offenders challenged the 2008 law, which required all sex offenders to be reclassified under a new three-tier system.

That system mandates longer reporting times and increased community notifications for many offenders once considered low-level. Three local individuals set to fall off the registry this year are now subject to five additional years of reporting because of the change.

“Judge (Susan) Boyer and (Ed) Lane both denied our motions that this should not apply to anyone convicted and sentenced prior to when this went into effect,” Smith said. “The 4th District Court of Appeals also denied our motion. It’s now up to the Supreme Court to decide if this is constitutional or not.

“I can’t see how it can be constitutional. How can you change the rules in the middle of the game?” Smith said.

With the exception of those who have moved away, every person who was ever registered as a sex offender in Washington County remains on the sheriff’s registry.

Prior to the change, Washington County had 20 sexual predators, the most serious offenders under the old system. There are now 42 individuals labeled in the “most serious” tier III category.

Smith said the new system lumps many low-level offenders in with the most serious offenders. The new law would require individuals who had previous reporting requirements for 10 years to report for life.

Under the old law, judges held special hearings and determined the level of restrictions for offenders on an individual basis. Restrictions are now mandated and based on the type of offense.

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