Adam Walsh’ Provision Requiring Attorney General to Reclassify Sex Offenders Violates Separation of Powers
Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2010/2010-Ohio-2424.pdf Adobe PDF Link opens new window.
Video clip View oral argument video of this case.
(June 3, 2010) In a narrowly tailored decision announced today, the Supreme Court of Ohio voided as unconstitution al two sections of the Ohio Adam Walsh Act (AWA) that authorize the state attorney general to reclassify sex offenders who had already been classified by judges under a previous version of the law, “Megan’s Law.” The Court held that the challenged provisions violate the separation-of-powers doctrine of the Ohio Constitution.
Today’s decision leaves in place all of the law enforcement registration and community notification requirements of the AWA applicable to sex offenders who were classified on or after the Jan. 1, 2008, effective date of that law, and reinstates the pre-AWA registration and community notification requirements that judges had ordered offenders to comply with pursuant to Megan’s Law.
In this case, Christian Bodyke, David Schwab and Gerald Phillips were separately convicted of sex-related crimes prior to 2007. Pursuant to the pre-AWA version of Ohio’s sex offender classification statute (known as Megan’s Law), the trial court in which they were convicted conducted a formal hearing in each case at which the judge reviewed factors enumerated in the statute and issued a final order assigning each of the offenders to a classification that imposed a duty of postrelease registration with the sheriff in their county of residence.
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For the past 15 years, the public has been left with a false sense of security. A federally funded study has determined that Megan’s Law does not work.
Conducted by independent psychologists along with staff from the state Department of Corrections’ Office of Policy and Planning, this comprehensive study looked at 21 years of sex offense rates. It confirms in New Jersey what other studies have found elsewhere. Megan’s Law “has no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual reoffenses.”
Megan’s Law struck out on every important area related to protecting the community from sexual offenders. Not only is there no evidence that it reduces sexual reoffenses, Megan’s Law:
Fails to positively impact sex offender rearrest rates,
Fails to change the type of reoffenses or first time offenses that occur, or
Fails to reduce the number of victims involved in sexual offenses.
As the state agency charged with representing those required to register under Megan’s Law, the state public defender agrees completely with the study’s findings and with its ultimate conclusion that “given the lack of demonstrable effect of Megan’s Law on sexual offenses, the growing costs may not be justifiable.”
What is equally remarkable is that other research cited by the New Jersey study, as well as our own experience, shows that Megan’s Law can be “counterproduct ive” to public safety. Notification laws have been found to isolate offenders from normal relationships, undercut their opportunities for housing and employment and subject offenders to threats and assaults.
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The Parents Perspective
You become anxious. You check the time every few minutes. You look at the phone expecting it to ring.
It is well past the time she should have come home. Where could she be?
As the minutes pass you pace the floor and your mind covers all the bases. She lost track of time, she got caught in traffic, perhaps a flat tire. Why don’t you call me??
It is a long and sleepless night. Perhaps you drove to where she was last known to be, retracing every step. At 3 AM you called her friends, all of them, and none had seen her since she left the party.
Morning finds you looking out the window. The driveway is empty. It’s time to make that call. As the knot in your stomach tightens, you dial the number, 9 – 1 – 1.
When a voice comes from the other end of the line you agonize even to say the words, “My daughter is missing. Please help me find her. She is so young. Please bring her back to me.” The emotions are beyond comparison and tears begin to fall as for the first time you contemplate the worst case scenario.
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In responce to comments on my Jim Crow Article.
Just what does it take to get us talking, thinking, openly communicating.
And why would anyone go to such extremes just to get people to read an article.
The answers are simple. Each one of us has a comfort zone; even in what we will read or what we will talk about.
If the subject line had been any different would you have read it? Only you can answer that. To those who saw past their own feelings and read further, you demonstrate why you are a leader in this movement. It is because you are willing to at least look at the other side of an issue, even if you disagree with it. Really this is the only way we can come up with an answer to our opponents objections.
If we understand this, we can begin to understand what it will take for us to reach the public with our message. We can see that thus far we have had little success in reaching the masses. The why is simple. Our subject offends them so they do not consider it worthy of conversation or thought. So now that I have you thinking please consider the following article with an open mind. And remember I do not write to offend only to open a dialogue of an important subject.
A Fractured Movement
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine”
As many of you know I recently wrote an article about Jim Crow laws and how these same types of laws are now being used against former sex offenders. In that article I used the “N” word and directed not towards African Americans but sex offenders. Some took offence, wrongly thinking that I was making a racist statement. That is simply not true. In different contexts the “N” word means different things. If it is being used by one African American towards another it is fine. But if anyone else uses it even in fun it is wrong. Jack Chan found that out in the movie, Shanghai Noon. So I am not going to ponder this too much in this article. It is obvious that if people want to get upset they will, no matter the intent.
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