930 felons registered for murder, aggravated murder in Ohio’s violent offender database
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A recent law requiring Ohio’s most dangerous, convicted criminals to register with the state just survived a challenge in court.
19 Investigates found nearly 2,000 offenders are now registered in a statewide database more than two years after Sierah’s Law went into effect.
The law is named after 20-year-old Sierah Joughin, a University of Toledo student who was kidnapped and murdered by a repeat, violent offender five years ago.
“She had goals and she had dreams and she was on a path and she was going to do amazing things,” said Sierah’s Aunt, Tara Ice.
Her family, later learned her killer lived just miles from her home and he was a repeat violent offender.
“When Sierah went missing we checked the sex offender registry, all of those things were checked and marked off. Had we had a violent offender database, we would have been able to check on those people,” Ice said.
So they fought for Sierah’s Law to create that database.
Ice said it’s just another step to help find someone who goes missing.
“It could’ve made a difference in our case, and I know it will make a difference in other cases. It gives law enforcement a tool that is extremely important,” Ice said.
Sierah’s Law established a violent offender database maintained by Ohio BCI, available to law enforcement.
19 Investigates found the public can’t see the entire database.
But you can go to a sheriff’s office and request the name, picture, crimes and address of violent offenders who live near you.
“They could be living right next to you. And I think as a citizen, as a mother, I would want to know,” Ice said.
19 Investigates discovered there are 1,987 criminal records in the database, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Just under half of those offenders are still behind bars.
930 felons are registered for murder and aggravated murder and about 870 are on the list for kidnapping and abduction.
Anyone convicted of a handful of violent offenses after March 20, 2019 is required to report to their sheriff ‘s office once a year for a decade.
Failure to comply with registration is a felony for offenders and the court can add years to their registration time.
Offenders who fear for their safety can request their information be kept private.
19 Investigates found two convicts who committed crimes just before the new law took effect, but were sentenced afterwards, challenged the law.
But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled it can be imposed on those who committed their crimes before the law took effect.
It’s a win for Sierah’s family, who believes it should be retroactive.
“It is our right to know and to keep ourselves safe,” her aunt said.
Sierah’s aunt runs Justice for Sierah, which she founded after her death.
Their goal is to educate young people on safety and they’re starting a program in schools now.
They also want to get a similar law like this passed in other states.
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