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COMMUNITY McKelvey will push to ban sex offenders



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



The mayor isn't giving up the fight.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mayor George M. McKelvey's suggestion to prohibit convicted sex offenders from living in Youngstown conflicts with state law, according to the city's law director.

Even so, McKelvey doesn't plan to give up the fight.

In April, McKelvey wrote a letter to Law Director Iris Guglucello seeking a legal opinion as to whether a city, by charter authority, could prohibit convicted sex offenders from residing there.

McKelvey also wants to require convicted sex offenders in Youngstown to have special identification on their vehicles.

At the time, The Vindicator reported that the Ohio Attorney General's Office said the only dwelling restriction for sex offenders in Ohio is they can't live within 1,000 feet of school property.

Challenging constitutionality

In a letter to McKelvey, Guglucello wrote: "It is unlikely that any ordinance as requested would survive a constitutional challenge as the issues under consideration are matters of statewide concern, and would conflict with the general laws of the state."

However, McKelvey wants to challenge the constitutionality of the law.

A North Canton councilman recently proposed legislation to keep convicted sex offenders from living within a mile of schools, parks and public swimming pools.

McKelvey said he plans to ask city council to adopt similar legislation in the not-too-distant future, and challenge state law as a group with the North Canton councilman and others.

"I haven't given up on the issue," he said. "I feel strongly and passionately about this issue. If you can't create a sex-offender-free zone for the entire city, then it's prudent to concentrate on places where children and families congregate."

No city jurisdiction

In her letter, Guglucello points out that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a Cincinnati ordinance to prohibit those charged and/or convicted with certain drug offenses from entering specific areas was unconstitutional.

"The ordinance provided a municipal punishment for a state statute that was not provided for in the statute itself," she wrote.

Also, the state punishes sex offenders through statutes passed by the General Assembly, she wrote.

"The city lacks the power to provide additional punishment for this state proscribed conduct," Guglucello wrote.

State power

The state attorney general's office says cities don't have the authority to identify sex offenders on their vehicle license plates.

Legislation was introduced in the Ohio House that, if passed into law, gives judges the option to require convicted sex offenders to have special pink license plates on all their vehicles.

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.

There are about 125 registered sex offenders in the Youngstown City School District limits.

skolnick@vindy.com




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