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Could Ohio require violent offenders to go on a registry?

Everyone is familiar with sex offender registries for those convicted of sex crimes. People can remain on these registries for many years after they've completed their prison sentence. Now, two Ohio lawmakers are advocating for a similar registry for people who've been convicted of other types of violent offenses after they've been released from prison.

Such a registry would not be the first of its kind. Seven states currently have publicly-accessible lists of violent offenders. They vary in what types of offenders they track. Some registries include murderers only, while others include those convicted of crimes like aggravated assault, kidnapping and arson.

Calls for the violent offender registry were sparked by the murder of a college student here in Ohio last summer. The man arrested for her killing was an ex-convict who lived in the area.

The Ohio state senator who is leading the effort for a violent offenders' registry says that it likely wouldn't include all convicted felons. Obviously, a bar fight is a violent crime, but not the same thing as an unprovoked attack. Further, a divorced parent who takes his or her child without permission can't be equated with a random kidnapper. One Ohio sheriff says that judges should be able to weigh in on which people convicted of felonies would have to be on such a registry.

There are still issues to be determined, such as who would maintain and update the registry, who would pay for it and how long someone would be required to remain on it. A law requiring violent offenders to register would likely require the support of Ohio law enforcement agencies.

Considering the slow speed at which government works, it's doubtful that this is anything that would happen in the near future. However, the possibility of such a registry is just one more reason why anyone accused of a violent crime should seek legal guidance to fight or at least mitigate the charges against them.

Source: Lima News, "Q&A: Offender list in Ohio brings up questions about cost," Nov. 20, 2016

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