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Rules create more work for Hocking law enforcement
HOCKING COUNTY - The newly revamped sex offender law designed to keep the public safe has left Deputy Ted Hayes in the Hocking County Sheriff's Office feeling a little swamped with work.
- This should say "designed to keep the public feeling safe!"
Hayes handles the offender registration at the sheriff's office. "The work has quadrupled," he said.
The new law, which took effect at the beginning of January, was passed by the Ohio Legislature to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act. The new law updates the reporting requirements for all sex offenders, and reclassifies them into different categories.
"There were certain people we only saw once a year that we have to see four times a year now," Hayes explained. "Under the new law, the sheriff's office has to notify more people when a sex offender moves into the area. That makes more work for everyone." Despite the extra work, however, Hayes says that nothing else should change in the sheriff's office as far as the amount of deputies patrolling the area.
According to Hayes, if a sexual offender was previously listed as a sexual predator (the highest or most serious category) under the old system, they are automatically placed in Tier Three, the highest category under the new system. Hayes also added that there is a very slim chance for anyone to be moved to a less serious category under the new system. The only way to do so would be with an appeals process in which a judge determined the offender could be upgraded to a different category.
However, Teresa Kirkendall, who handles the offender registration at the Athens County Sheriff's Office, said that the classification bumped some people down on the list. "I've noticed that some of these guys who were way up there as habitual sexual offenders are now way down there in Tier 1," she said.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office re-classified the offenders in December and informed them of the changes via letter. Offenders have 60 days from the date they receive the letter to file a petition protesting their reclassification under the new law. Hocking County Clerk of Courts Narcie Stahr said that less than a handful of people have filed petitions so far.
Some of those appealing across the state have argued that the new law is a breach of contract, because many offenders made plea bargains and the new law forces the court to break its side of the bargain. Also, because the reclassification puts offenders formerly deemed low-level into a high-risk category, some offenders are being punished more severely than they were before.
- SUE, SUE, SUE, or these evil bastards will continue to do this. Eventually, if they get a way with this, more criminals will be facing the same ever changing rules. The Gestapo have arrived....
"I think it's a crying shame that people make deals based on a certain set of circumstances and then those circumstances change at the whim of some legislators, who probably don't have to deal with the real-world consequences," said David Winkelmann, an attorney in Athens who represents several offenders who have contested, or are planning to contest, the new requirements in their cases.
- Yep, very sad. If they can change these rules at any time, they can change ANYTHING anytime they feel like it. So what is the point of having rules if those rules are to be broken? So much for the rule of law Bush and others have preached about. Guess that was another lie, like usual!
Winkelmann said that legislators were able to pass this law because it was intended to protect the public, not punish the offender. Winkelmann argued that it's obvious that the requirements are punitive, however, and do punish the offender.
- How can it not be punishment? Anything done after the fact, is punishment and breaking a contract. We are now living in the USSA folks! Intended to protect the public how? It won't, it's all about punishment. Why can't you sheeple see this. Your rights will be wiped one day, then lets see what you have to say...
Some offenders who have moved from the lowest category to the highest category are now subject to community notification, which means that when they move into a neighborhood, the sheriff's office is required to notify every neighbor within 1,000 feet of where the offender lives.
Hayes added that he has many letters to write and send to neighbors of sexual offenders. He noted that some people in the community may be receiving letters notifying them that there is a sexual offender located nearby. While it doesn't necessarily mean that there is a new sexual offender who has moved into the area, it does mean that more people have been moved to the Tier 3 category (the most serious category) because of the reclassification. Only neighbors of offenders that are listed in the Tier 3 category will receive letters.
The sheriff's office is also required to collect more information from offenders. In addition to the already required information about the offenders work, home and school addresses, now they must notify the sheriff's office if they are leaving for vacation, where they are going and where they are staying, and also must the sheriff in the county they plan to visit. Offenders now must provide all Internet identifiers, such as e-mail addresses or MySpace accounts, along with any vehicle and license plate information for any vehicles they drive.
- Why don't you collect a stool sample while your at it?
Sex offender categories
Hocking County currently has 91 registered sex offenders. Under the previous system, there were 95 offenders.
The offenders under the previous system were classified as follows:
Sexual predator (highest or most serious): 13
Habitual sexual offender (middle): 3 <-- Habitual means more than one sex crime committed, or should...
Sexually oriented offender (lowest category): 79
- Total of 95 sex offenders
Under the new system, they are classified as follows:
Tier 3: (sexual predators) 34 <-- So before, we had 16, now we have 34, that doesn't make much sense to me..
Tier 2: (habitual sex offender) 50
Tier 1: (sexually oriented offender) 7 <-- And from 79 down to 7, what the hell!!!
- Total of 91 sex offenders, where did the other 4 go?
With the old system, offenders in the lowest and middle categories only had to report once each year to Hayes, while those in the highest category had to report quarterly.
Under the previous system, Hayes would have received 134 check-ins from offenders. With the new system in place, offenders in Tier Three, which is the highest category, still must report four times each year to Hayes. Yet, the combined total of the sex offenders who must now report to Hayes has jumped to 243 times each year, a spike of 109 visits from the old system.