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Sex-offender roundup is set during trick-treat



Published: Wed, October 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The program has worked successfully in Columbus for many years.

LIMA, Ohio (AP) -- About 40 sex offenders will be required to report to a probation office for two hours while children are trick-or-treating in this northwest Ohio city, a county court official said.

"They do not have a choice," said Jim Wingate, project director for Allen County Sex Offender Risk Reduction Court. "Anybody under my supervision, if they're directed to show up and they don't, they will go to jail."

The sex offenders will undergo drug testing and have their ankle monitors checked, Wingate said. Failing to appear could mean a violation of their probation, he said.

Children will go from house to house between 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday. The court plans to have police officers look for sex offenders who don't come to the probation office during that time, Wingate said.

"Kids are out, they are vulnerable and they come to strangers' houses," Wingate said.

Objection

Defense attorney Bill Kluge called it ludicrous for sex offenders to be rounded up on the premise that children will be safer.

"They are on ankle monitors in the first place. They know where they're at," Kluge said. "Why not corral all people convicted of a second DUI from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.?"

Wingate said the idea of holding the roundup on Halloween came from a regional sex offender specialist through the state prison system. Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Lyons said Columbus has had success with the program in past years.

Allen County has 139 registered sex offenders. Most of those required to report to the probation office are classified as sexual predators and are considered to have a high risk of committing another sex crime, Wingate said.

The sex offender court, run through the Allen County Common Pleas Court, started in January as part of an effort to reduce the rate of repeat crimes. The program has placed monitors in schools that sound an alarm if a sex offender wearing an ankle transmitter comes within 600 feet.




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