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CRIME Mayor takes aim at sex offenders



Published: Wed, April 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The mayor wants to embarrass sex offenders to get them to leave Youngstown.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mayor George M. McKelvey's suggestion to prohibit convicted sex offenders from living in Youngstown isn't permissible under state law.

The only dwelling restriction for sex offenders in the state is that they aren't permitted to live within 1,000 feet of school property, said Bob Beasley, an Ohio Attorney General Office spokesman.

"That is the only restriction on where they can live," he said. "They're able to live elsewhere."

McKelvey asked Law Director Iris Guglicello to give a legal opinion as to whether a city, by charter authority, could prohibit convicted sex offenders from residing there. Youngstown is a charter city.

McKelvey also asked Guglicello to do legal research to develop city ordinances to identify the vehicles and residences of convicted sex offenders in the city.

McKelvey wants to require convicted sex offenders in Youngstown to have special identification on their vehicles. But requiring registered sex offenders to have something placed on their vehicles isn't an option for cities, Beasley said.

The state issues license plates, and only the state can decide to identify registered sex offenders on their plates, he said.

State Rep. Courtney E. Combs of Fairfield, R-54th, plans to introduce legislation shortly in the Ohio House giving judges the option of requiring convicted sex offenders to have a special license plate on their vehicles, said Jarrod Weiss, the House member's administrative assistant.

Another approach

If convicted sex offenders can't be legally kicked out of Youngstown, McKelvey said he'd like to embarrass them out of the city.

"It's very difficult to bar a person from living in a community, but a charter city may have other options," he said.

Youngstown has a law permitting it to place signs in front of condemned buildings that identifies the property's owner and his or her telephone number, McKelvey said. The law hasn't been used much, he added.

"Maybe we could pass a charter amendment allowing us to do the same with registered sex offenders," McKelvey said. "Embarrassment would be motivation for sex offenders to leave our city. We should find a way to get them out of our city. This will motivate all or most of them to realize that there is no welcome mat in Youngstown for people like that."

McKelvey expects Guglicello's legal opinion to be made in two weeks. After that, McKelvey plans to schedule a meeting to discuss the opinion.

There are 127 registered sex offenders in the Youngstown City School District limits, he said.

Once out of prison, convicted sex offenders are required to register with the county in Ohio in which they move. Their names and addresses are listed on the state attorney general's Web site, and on the Web site of their home county sheriff's department if those departments have sites, Beasley said.

skolnick@vindy.com




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