Editor’s note: Dennis is a new RSOL Advocate in Ohio, joining Dolly in Ohio RSOL; as part of his application for the position, he included this first-person account.
By Dennis, guest blogger
I joined RSOL a few months ago and agreed to become an RSOL Advocate for the State of Ohio.
I’ve been working with some of the local RSOL members to make changes to Ohio’s sexual offender laws and registry. I have been working closely with Dolley on some projects. We met with a state representative on a bill she introduced (HB 353) which would have required sexual offenders to submit the names of all members of their household over 18 to each of the sheriff’s departments they had to register with. We thought this an invasion of the privacy of these household members and a further extension of the bad registry laws. We suggested an alternative course of action that could accomplish her goals of informing family members of an offender’s status. She graciously gave us a great deal of her time and agreed to hold up her bill while she investigated our alternatives.
I have been having meetings with Ohio RSOL members, a few at a time. Some of us want to work towards changing Ohio sex offender laws through the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee (OCJRC), which is charged with making recommendation by next August to make changes to Ohio’s Revised Code (ORC) to lessen the number of people being sent to Ohio’s prisons. It is a bi-partisan committee with legislators, defense attorneys, prosecutors, social service representatives, judges and others. I have been in contact with several members of this committee and its staff and attended the November meeting in Columbus and plan to attend the December meeting. The Ohio Public Defenders Office has the section of the ORC pertaining to sex offenders and has given indication that they want to make changes to these parts of the ORC to make them less draconian.
I have also been reaching out to members of the Ohio House from my area. I am in a political organization that several of these representatives are members of. Two are on the house judiciary committee that will receive the ODJRC report. I have also reached out to other representatives in the state that I have somewhat of a relationship with.
I have also reached out to some of the ‘progressive’ churches in my area (or their national offices) to ask for their support in making changes to this law. I have a meeting scheduled with my church to make a presentation seeking their support on this issue on December 1st at the East Ohio Conference office.
I am assembling a spreadsheet outlining our tentative plan for influencing the OCJRC. This is a work in progress and subject to change and adaptation.
I have also worked with Mark Wineberg in Illinois on a mapping project to help with a case they plan to file on concerns with their sexual offender registry and residency restrictions.
I have done most of this as an individual. I look forward to being even more active as an advocate for RSOL in Ohio. Don’t say that you are just one person. Everyone can do something or can support those who are doing something. We must fight for ourselves.