Ohio Supreme Court Voids Retroactive Sex Offender Penalties


The Ohio Supreme Court struck down more sections of the state’s sex-offender law yesterday, ruling that it unconstitutionally increases the punishment for crimes committed before the law took effect in 2008, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The 5-2 decision could affect more than 7,000 sex offenders. That is fewer than the 19,000 helped by a 2010 high-court ruling, but it is another victory for public defenders and advocates who say Ohio lawmakers went too far with retroactive, tougher reporting and registration requirements for offenders.

Ohio was the first state to revise its sex-offender law to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, which created a uniform national tracking and registry system. Ohio sex offenders were reclassified into three tiers that generally require extra reporting and registration – and for longer periods. The court last year said having the state reclassify 26,000 sex offenders was unconstitutional because it overturned final trial-court decisions and thus violated the separation-of-powers doctrine. Yesterday, justices said the sex-offender law was changed so much to the detriment of offenders that it violated the Ohio Constitution’s prohibition against retroactive laws.

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