Ohio2006 Blog

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Wednesday, October 11

Atty Gen: VIDEO - Dann (D) and Fisher (D) Announce Tough New Child Protection Bill

This afternoon I attended a press conference in front of the Cleveland Justice Center where Attorney General candidate State Sen. Marc Dann (Liberty Township) and Lieutenant Governor candidate Lee Fisher (D-Cleveland) discussed Dann's proposed legislation to fully implement the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 that was passed by Congress in July, early compliance with which will reap bonus funding for the state:

[I have removed the embedded link, but the video is available here.

Fisher was Attorney General from 1991 to 1995 and is a recognized leader in the national effort to strengthen the laws that protect children from sexual predators. He applauded Dann for taking the steps needed to bring Ohio into compliance with "Adam's Law," and he said that he and Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) look forward to working with Dann as Ohio's Attorney General to make this state the safest in the nation for children and families.

Dann explained that as was the case with Megan's Law and the Wetterling Act, the first two substantive child protection laws passed by Congress, states like Ohio will be responsible for implementing the lion's share of the provisions of the new measure. Speaking as a father of young children and as a state senator who has been devoted to strengthening the laws that protect Ohio's kids, Dann urged early compliance with "Adam's Law." Although Congress has given the states three years to comply, Dann pointed out that Ohio stands to benefit from early compliance both by receiving bonus money and by obtaining the benefits of stronger child protection law sooner.

Dann was referring to the fact that Adam's Law establishes a "Sex Offender Management Assistance" program that will provide annual grants to the states to help fund the establishment and maintenance of the new registry. States that comply within one year of the new law's enactment date are eligible for a ten percent bonus from the federal government.

In order to bring the state into compliance with Adam's Law, Senator Dann's bill will:
Ø Require sex offenders to register in both the jurisdiction in which they committed their offense as well as in the jurisdiction in which they reside;

Ø Remove the statute of limitations on rape;

Ø Add a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) provision to Ohio law that will provide for the confiscation of any property that is used in the commission of a sex crime;

Ø Create the offense of sex trafficking and promoting the sex trafficking of children;

Ø Impose a jail sentence of one year on any sex offender who fails to register as required by law;

Ø Require that the state's sex offender registry be updated to meet the requirements established by the federal law;

Ø Specify that any sex offense is a corrupt activity for purposes of Ohio's RICO law;

Ø Provide funding for local police and prosecutors so implementation does not drain precious resources away from other important law enforcement activities;

Ø Increase the potential punishment for sexual predators who use the Internet to set up meetings with minors by making the offense of attempted unlawful sexual contact with a minor—the charge most often lodged against defendants who respond to Internet sting operations run by law enforcement—a Felony 3.
Dann's bill also contains a provision that directs the state to apply for a grant established in Section 621 of Adam's Law that will provide funding for acquiring and outfitting sexual predators with GPS monitoring devices as well as for the law enforcement officers needed to monitor the offenders who are wearing them. Complying with the federal law now will enable Ohio to secure the funds it needs to erase the backlog of forensic computer investigations that now exists at the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In addition to providing bonuses and grants for states that move quickly, Adam's Law also penalizes states that drag their feet. "Ohio lost $2 million in federal funding when Betty Montgomery failed to ensure that the legislature had fully implemented Megan's Law," Senator Dann noted. "We can't afford to allow that situation to occur again. That is why I am not willing to wait for someone else to take action. The time to begin the process of complying with the law is now."

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