Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ohio Supreme Court ruling in favor of sex offender

Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in favor of a Green Township man who challenged a July 2003 state law that banned sex offenders from living with 1,000 feet of schools. In 2005, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman had ordered the plaintiff Gerry R. Porter, Jr. to move from the home he had owned for 14 years because it was located 983 feet from St. Jude School. Mr. Porter was convicted of a sexual offense in 1999.

The Supreme Court ruled that “the legislature was unclear about retroactive intent when it voted to ban sex offenders from living with 1,000 feet of schools.” As a result of the decision, according to yesterday’s Enquirer article, “thousands of Ohio sex offenders can return to their homes.”

Remembering that sexual predators was an agenda item for both the January and February Committee of Whole meetings and that former Norwood Law Director Rick Gibson had spoken to council 1-2 years ago about his successful efforts to have sex offenders move who were living under 1,000 feet of our own schools, we called the Law Director’s office to explore what, if any, impact the Supreme Court ruling might have on sex offenders potentially moving back to our community.

We didn’t get very far. We were told the Law Director’s office doesn’t speak to the media.

2/25/08 UPDATE: Regarding last week’s Ohio Supreme Court decision, today’s Enquirer editorial “Get real on sex offender rules” seems to agree with our 2/22/08 commenters for this blog: “Applying these laws retroactively is inhumane. Forcing an offender who has served a sentence to later uproot himself and move beyond an arbitrary boundary line destabilizes the person’s life, while doing nothing to protect society…these laws have several flaws, including treating most types of sex offenders as being equally dangerous...statistics show that most sex offenders aren’t strangers to their victims.” In the wake of the court’s decision, perhaps council will discuss this topic at their meeting tomorrow evening.