Web site to list sexual offenders
All three levels of sexual offenders will be listed on the sheriff's Web site.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Want to know where to find a rapist or child molester in Mahoning County? Just check the Internet.
The county sheriff's department plans to post the names of convicted sexual offenders on its Web site, making their whereabouts available to anyone who cares to look them up.
"By statute, we're allowed to do that," said Maj. Michael Budd of the sheriff's department.
Under Ohio law, people convicted of certain sexual crimes can be labeled sexual predators, and are required to register with the sheriff's department in the county where they live. They must register every 90 days for the rest of their lives, said Deena Calabrese, assistant prosecutor.
The sheriff's department then sends a letter to that community's school district, notifying officials that a sexual predator lives there, Budd said.
The department and school officials then notify people in the community.
"A lot of these guys get mad at us for doing that, but it's all public record," Budd said.
He expects the information to be available within a month or so through the department's Web site at http://co.mahoning.oh.us/sheriff.
3 levels: Calabrese said sexual predators are the worst of three levels of sexual offenders, which is why they are required to register for life. The other levels are habitual sex offenders and sexually oriented offenders.
Budd said names of people who fall into those categories will also be listed on the Web site.
Habitual sex offenders are those who have been convicted of more than one sex-related crime but don't qualify for predator status, Calabrese said. They must register with the sheriff's department once a year for 20 years.
Sexually oriented offenders are required to register with the sheriff's department for 10 years.
The law does not require schools and neighbors to be notified about habitual sex offenders or sexually oriented offenders, but there is nothing illegal about posting their names on the Internet, Calabrese said.
In some communities, sexual predators are made to post signs in their yard or a sticker on their vehicle identifying them as predators, Calabrese said.
"We're not taking it that far," she said. She also noted that other counties and communities across the state have already taken the Internet approach to letting the public know where sexual offenders are living.