Ohio’s new violent offender registry went live last month, and the list grew to 22 people by early Wednesday, including two from Montgomery County.
The database will include registration for those convicted of aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping and abduction.
A public information officer for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said some Violent Offender Database (VOD) forms — which must be completed each year for a decade — have been received by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) from Ohio sheriffs’ offices.
“BCI has received (22) VOD forms from (the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction) for offenders who have been released from custody,” spokesman Steve Irwin said, confirming that people convicted and released before March 20 do not have to register.
The Violent Offender Database registry will be available to law enforcement, but not to the public online, though residents can visit their sheriff’s office to get some information on offenders.
“The theory is that it could be useful to law enforcement in finding someone in the database as well as assisting them with a list of suspects to consider if a similar crime is committed,” Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan said. “If someone on the registry commits another offense of violence, we can file a motion asking the court to extend the length of time that the offender has to register.”
The first 22 registrants did not include anyone from Greene, Miami, Warren, Clark, Champaign, Darke, Preble, Warren or Butler counties.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said the database could help officers.
“It will be a tool law enforcement will be able to use if they have something about who is living from the area,” Fischer said. “Once again, it’s going have to go back to making sure people live exactly where they (are registered).”
Proponents of the law signed in December by then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the registry may help stop situations like the one involving 20-year-old University of Toledo student Sierah Joughin.
Joughin was abducted in July 2016 while riding a bicycle. Her body was found days later a few miles from her house, according to reports.
James D. Worley, convicted of killing Joughin, previously served time for abducting a woman in Lucas County. He lived near where Joughin disappeared, but Worley wasn’t on the sex offender registry.
“Sierah’s death was a tragic situation that could have been prevented with the right information on the violent offender’s release from prison,” Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said last year. “Just as the public has a right to know to know on the status of sex offenders, citizens should know about offenders with an extremely violent past.”
Irwin said when the list increases, it will be handled by Watch Systems LLC — the same vendor handling Ohio’s sex offender and arson registries. The arson registry also is not available online for the public.
“The respective Sheriff’s Offices (SO) have been notified that a violent offender has a duty to enroll with them,” Irwin said. “The form lists information to be collected from the offender (demographic info, address, vehicle, etc.) and would be in the possession of the SO if/when the offender goes in to enroll.”
The database will include registration information for those convicted of aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping and abduction.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck’s office said they will be notified about registrants by court sentencing or release from prison.
The law was supported by the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association and now-Gov. Mike DeWine, who was Ohio’s attorney general.
DeWine previously estimated that the AG’s office could incorporate the system within the existing sex offender registry, costing about $350,000 to establish and “a subsequent annual cost of approximately $175,000, plus personnel costs.”
Those against the law included the Ohio Public Defender’s Office and the ACLU of Ohio.
The state public defender Timothy Young testified that making a failure to annually register a fifth-degree felony could make prison overcrowding worse.
A spokeswoman for the ACLU of Ohio on Tuesday said the law is “unnecessary.”
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