Sunday, November 13, 2011

Complying with Walsh Act costs Ohio $10 million

The Youngstown Vindicator
November 13, 2011

Four years ago, Ohio became the first state to comply with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (AWA) which mandated a more comprehensive, nationwide system to track sex offenders. The intent of the AWA was to standardize sex offender laws across the country. The AWA established minimum national standards and provided some consistency with regard to sex offender legislation.

The AWA gave states five years to bring their laws into conformity with the new federal guidelines. The federal government had some leverage when it came to convincing state legislatures to comply. Every state was mandated to comply with the public registry provisions of the AWA or lose 10 percent of their allotted Byrne Justice Assistance law enforcement grants.

The deadline was extended twice, first to July 2010 then to July 27, 2011. Have state lawmakers crumbled in the face of federal cuts, not exactly. Only Ohio and 13 other states met the deadline.

10 percent penalty

According to the Harrisburg Patriot News, New York and Texas have informed the Department of Justice that their respective states will not comply with the AWA and will voluntarily submit to the10 percent penalty.

Texas called the AWA “one-size-fits-all” legislation that would cost 30 times the amount of federal funds that will be withheld if the state does not comply. Texas has estimated the federal funding penalty at $1.4 million, compared to an implementation cost of $38.7 million.

In California, the state’s sex-offender management board recommended that the legislature reject the AWA. “California should absorb the comparatively small loss of federal funds that would result from not accepting the very costly and ill-advised changes to state law and policy required by the Act.”

A National Conference of State Legislatures’ database revealed that 48 states have enacted nearly 350 laws related to residency restrictions, sentencing and monitoring sex offenders since 2008.

The AWA mandate seeks to undo most of the independent sex offender legislation. The AWA will expand the categories of crimes eligible for registration and increase the period and frequency of registration for certain adults and juveniles, effectively growing registries by as much 500% in some states, reported CNN.
This summer an Ohio Supreme Court decision exposed the vulnerability of the more onerous requirement of the AWA. For the second time the Court found a portion of the AWA mandated legislation unconstitutional.

In State v. Williams, the Ohio Supreme Court held, “All sexual predators and most habitual sex offenders are expected, for the remainder of their lives, to register their residences and their employment with local sheriffs. Moreover, this information will be accessible to all. The stigma attached to sex offenders is significant, and the potential exists for ostracism and harassment.” Justice Paul E. Pfeiffer went on to write, “These restraints on liberty are the consequences of specific criminal convictions and should be recognized as part of the punishment that is imposed as a result of the offender’s actions.”

Retroactive laws

Justice Pfeiffer continued, “The General Assembly has the authority, indeed the obligation, to protect the public from sex offenders. It may not, however, consistent with the Ohio Constitution, ‘impose new or additional burdens, duties, obligations, or liabilities ...’ We conclude ... S.B. 10, violates Section 28, Article II of the Ohio Constitution, which prohibits the General Assembly from enacting retroactive laws.”

As the first state to comply with the AWA, Ohio’s problems with constitutionality are an ominous sign for other states. Amy Borror, spokeswoman for the Ohio Public Defenders Office, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that complying with the AWA spawned more than 7,000 lawsuits and increased the workload on sheriff’s offices by about 60 percent. Her office estimates that Ohio has spent at least $10 million just on legal costs defending the AWA.

If Ohio had chosen not to comply with AWA, the state would have lost about $935,000 in federal grant money.

1 comment:

Extremely Disgruntled said...

Well, since being written, OH Prosecutors have realized that A5 and A7 are shortcuts to convictions for two ADULTS involved. I warn anyone moving or living in Ohio who is a male step-parent, or either gendered Higher Education Teacher about these facts. All you need to do is tick someone off, and their family can SAY you did something. The law allows no room for a defensive response, no evidence is needed, just someone complaining. This is completely statutory. The MAN is always GUILTY. No matter that the step- “child” is a step-ADULT. No matter if the adult step-child or adult student initiated the encounter. Or if the authoritative person legally gets raped by the adult stepchild or student. So in effect this law DENIES a step-parent or teacher the opportunity to ever be a VICTIM of a crime by the other person. HMMMM.. I have yet to see a step-MOTHER found guilty of this charge.
Another HMMMM. Now, take this for-instance—If the step father is 70 and the stepdaughter is 50, IT’S STILL AGAINST THE LAW IN OH! (as long as he’s still married to the mother.) Another hypothetical is that the divorce is not finalized until notified by mail. Something is illegal before reading the mail that BECOMES legal THE SAME DAY, after reading the mail. I really don’t think that the legislature intended a morning illegal and afternoon legal law. Ohio also has no law against two biological siblings from breeding together, as long as they don’t get married. This concerns me that no one in the OH legislature has ever proposed such a law. The concern there is that maybe, those same lawmakers actually have that problem in their family. No disrespect: but maybe there are some Aunt-Mom’s and Uncle Dad’s in their lineage somewhere. Truly boggles the mind, as just unbelievable. I just had a heinous thought, What if.... There was a sexual relationship between a man and a woman in PA, they are living together. He is 30, she is 21. He's a college teacher in Ohio, she goes to his school as a student, but they LIVE together in PA, because they are engaged. If they go "at it" in Ohio, he goes to prison for up to 5 years per “encounter,” under the A7 code because they are not married. She then gets part of the "victims fund" dispersed to her, (averaging close to $3000 to each victim today,) so she makes money for putting him away. Pretty cool way to make money. I wonder how many Ohio females actually subsidize their income this way??? How many innocents are actually falsely convicted, or plead out to these crimes? ONLY IN OHIO! Just because of outright lies, or even lightly stretched truths?? He then becomes a Tier 3 offender with community notification for life! How fair is that????
Now for the BEST part.. If the cry of RAPE is played, then ALL defense is evaporated due to the Victim Protection Laws. A PLEA is mandatory to save themselves more prison time at that point. Maybe if there were lawyers with SPINES in OH, there would be some victories in these cases of trumped up charges. Who ever heard of an F1-RAPE charged being dropped in an F3-Sexual Battery case? Not unless it weren't true??? Over Indicting is rampant and also causes this problem.
Everyone needs to educate themselves before this witch hunt affects someone in thier family or even to someone they know. Because... IT WILL HAPPEN unless these laws change.

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