Ohio Attorney General candidate Betty Montgomery joined with State Senator Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) in a news conference today to propose legislation increasing penalties for sex offenders who fail to register with local law enforcement. State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron O'Brien and Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp were also present at the news conference to show their support for the proposed legislation.
"It's critical to the safety of our communities and our families that every designated sex offender registers with our county sheriffs," Montgomery said. "Too many of these criminals are slipping through the cracks, leaving citizens in the dark and in danger."
The proposal comes one day after President Bush signed the "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act." The new federal law, among other things, creates a national sex offender registry, designates funding for states to participate in the registry and increases penalties for sex offenders who fail to register.
A former two-term attorney general, Montgomery pledged to, if elected, take a national leadership role through her long-time contacts with the National Association of Attorneys General and other state attorneys general to give states a voice in the process of implementing the new federal law. Stivers plans to take the lead in making Ohio's sex offense laws a national model.
Working with Senator Stivers and Representative Schaffer, Montgomery also proposed amending Ohio's sex offender registration laws to increase the penalties for failure to register as a sex offender. Out of Ohio's approximately 15,000 sex offenders, more than 730 have failed to register with local law enforcement.
Under her plan, failure to register would carry the same penalty as the underlying sex offense for which the offender was convicted. For the most dangerous offenders, failure to register would be a first degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. Current law caps failure to register at a third-degree felony.
Her proposal would also require offenders who repeatedly fail to register to serve mandatory minimum prison sentences. Under current law, judges have the option of giving probation to offenders who repeatedly fail to register.
"Ohioans demand we track the location of known sex offenders," Stivers said. "This proposal simplifies and strengthens current law, makes it easier for local law enforcement to protect their communities, and sends a strong message to offenders that the state takes registration requirements seriously."
As a former State Senator and Attorney General, Montgomery has a long history of working to strengthen Ohio's sex offense laws. In the Senate, she served as Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Subcommittee and helped write several laws toughening penalties for sex offenders. As Attorney General, Montgomery wrote Ohio's version of Megan's law, creating the state's first sex offender database.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Montgomery Calls for Legislation to Strengthen Ohio's Sex Offender Laws
This just in from the Montgomery campaign: