COLUMBUS – State Senators Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) have begun working with law enforcement officials to consider Ohio joining other states that have a violent offender registry system in an effort to better inform and warn the public, similar to Ohio’s existing sex offender registry law.
Citizens in northwest Ohio have asked legislators to consider such a registry, encouraged following the murder of a 20-year-old University of Toledo student this month in Fulton County. The person charged with the murder of Sierah Joughin was convicted of abduction in 1990 and served three years in prison. Gardner and Hite both represent Fulton County in the Ohio Senate.
Both senators have already been in contact with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, as well as county prosecutors and sheriffs for input on moving forward with a new Ohio warning system.
“One of the fundamental responsibilities of government is the safety of our citizens,” the senators said. “We have an obligation to do what we can to listen to the concerns and anxieties of the people we represent while working with law enforcement to best achieve enhanced safety and public awareness.”
Several other states have violent offender registries, including neighboring Indiana. The senators will gain information from Indiana and other states as they begin working on an effective public registry process for Ohio.
Lawmakers have taken significant steps to address the issue of violent crime in our state by strengthening penalties for repeat violent offenders and conducting a comprehensive review of that state’s criminal justice laws.
Last year, the General Assembly approved Senate Bill 97, better known as the Violent Career Criminal Act, which classifies any adult convicted of at least two violent felonies in the past eight years as a “Violent Career Criminal.” Violent offenders under this classification now face steeper penalties such as mandatory prison time for subsequent offenses.
The legislature has also formed a bipartisan committee of 24 experts to conduct an extensive review of Ohio’s entire criminal code, with the goal of enhancing public safety and the administration of criminal justice throughout the state of Ohio.