How changes to Ohio’s new violent offender registry could make the database more public

Published: Monday, April 29, 2019 @ 6:30 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 @ 6:19 AM

Ohio Attorney General David Yost wants to make changes to a new law aimed at tracking violent offenders that???€??™s been on the books less than a month.

Ohio Attorney General David Yost wants to make changes to a new law aimed at tracking violent offenders that’s been on the books less than a month.

I-Team: Could a violent ex-con be living in your neighborhood?

Sierah's Law requires anyone convicted of aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping or abduction to enroll in the database. Once released from prison, offenders have 10 days to register with their local sheriff's office. 

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The law went into effect March 20 and honors Sierah Joughin, a 20-year-old University of Toledo student, who was reportedly kidnapped and killed in 2016 by a man who had been previously convicted of abduction. 

Unlike the sex offender registry, which can be accessed by anyone online, the only way to obtain information about ex-cons on the violent offender database is to request it from a local sheriff's office. 

Violent Offender Database Registry: 5 things you need to know

Just over one month into the new law, Ohio Attorney General David Yost told the I-Team, in an exclusive interview, that he is having his team review Sierah's Law in an effort to make most information public and accessible online. 

"People that commit murder. I'd kind of like to know if there's a murderer living next door and I think most people in Ohio would," Yost said. 

The I-Team checked with sheriff's offices in Montgomery, Greene, Clark and Preble counties and has learned that only Montgomery County has anyone on its violent offender data base. Currently five people from Montgomery County qualify for the database. 

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer told the I-Team that he has questions about enforcing the new law because his office has received little training on it.

Gov. Kasich signs bill to set up Ohio violent offender registry

"Are there going to be penalties for these offenders giving a bad address?" he asked. "For not registering? Where do we go with that? That's not been addressed that I've found yet." 

As a father of five, Eric Shepard told the I-Team he would search the violent offender database if the information was accessible online. 

"I think it would be nice to look up and see the kind of people you do live around and that way it would be safer for the kids," Shepard said. 

Sierah's Law requires those on the database pay an initial enrollment $50-fee and a yearly $25 renewal fee. 

A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union commented on the database, questioning its necessity.

List starts to grow for Ohio’s new Violent Offender Database

“The ACLU of Ohio questions the need for yet another database of people who have committed crimes when current, similar databases have not proven helpful or have been counterproductive to achieving stated goals,” the spokesperson said. “Databases simply do not make us safer as a state or country.”