Ohio’s corrections department has removed the names, photos, and records of all former prison inmates from its Web site–300,000 in all dating to the late 1970s. Computer users can still get information from the site on current inmates and those under community supervision. Residents now must call the department to get information about former inmates.
Corrections Director Reginald Wilkinson removed the names after fielding complaints for years from former inmates and their families, said spokeswoman Andrea Dean. “They were saying how hard it was getting employment,” Dean said. “Having their pictures on the Web was a barrier to them moving forward.”
Frank Deaner, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association, said public records should be easily accessible. “The convict’s record remains accessible by making a phone call,” Deaner said. “To me, if you’re going to make it accessible at that point, what’s the difference in putting it on the Internet?”
The corrections department had posted information about former inmates on its Web site since 1998. “The purpose of the offender search wasn’t for people to see if their neighbor was an ex-offender,” Dean said. “The purpose was so that victims could see when their offenders would have a parole hearing, or when they would be released. They can still do that.”