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Edward R. La Rue
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Do we need another criminal registry?

We know the drill. A crime occurs. It receives a great deal of publicity and media coverage. It often involves a suspect who had committed earlier crimes, had just been released from prison or was on probation or parole.

This inevitably leads to discussions of how this crime could have happened or what could be done to prevent a similar crime from occurring in the future. In many cases, the usual response has been for the legislature to act by increasing the penalty, typically by making for longer prison sentences or mandatory sentences.

The other response is the creation of some type of "registry," for the individuals who have committed this offense. The registry is created as a civil remedy and not a criminal penalty because this often allows for retroactive application to individuals who committed the crimes long before these registries were created.

The unintended consequences of many of the offender registries across the nation, including Ohio, is that they function as a punishment and often make it impossible for a for an individual to find a job, attend school or even locate a place to live.

Those registries have been in place for more than two decades and the empirical evidence is that they have had no effect on reducing sex crimes or made anyone safer. The problem is, most individuals who commit these acts have no records and would never have been on any type of registry in the first place.

If the legislature believes everyone who commits such a crime is inherently a risk to reoffend, the should change the penalty for all such crimes to that of a mandatory life sentence.

The effect on the number of total crimes committed would likely be questionable. But there is no question such a policy would lead to a massive increase in the budget of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and of the burden placed on taxpayers to pay for that increase.

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Edward R. La Rue
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Cleveland, OH 44113

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