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State of Ohio Establishes "Pre-Crime" Registry 761

I*Love*Green*Olives writes to tell us the Toledo Blade is reporting that State officials have rubber-stamped a "civil-registry" that would allow accused sex offenders to be tracked with the sex offender registry even if they have never been convicted of a crime. From the article: "A recently enacted law allows county prosecutors, the state attorney general, or, as a last resort, alleged victims to ask judges to civilly declare someone to be a sex offender even when there has been no criminal verdict or successful lawsuit. The rules spell out how the untried process would work. It would largely treat a person placed on the civil registry the same way a convicted sex offender is treated under Ohio's so-called Megan's Law."
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State of Ohio Establishes "Pre-Crime" Registry

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  • Re:Worst idea ever. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrraven ( 129238 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:02PM (#16035028)
    Of course it's unconstitutional but will the supreme court ACTUALLY overturn it? Remember George "the constitutional is just a godamn piece of paper" Bush has appointed 2 supreme court justices.
  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:10PM (#16035057)
    This is your loving Government, taking yet another step toward Total Security and Safety. To this end we're creating, for each and every one of our beloved citizens, the Perfect Padded Cell.

    All we want in return is your Freedom.

    Remember, the Terrorists hate our Freedom. We'll take it away, step by step, until there's nothing left for them to hate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:21PM (#16035104)
    Or there is some other logic for this decision that hasn't been shared with us.

    That other logic is called an election year. Politicians are not going to vote a against this kind of law. Otherwise, their opponents will air ads accusing them of helping child molesters go free and preventing the police from investigating them. And how will that politician respond? They think accused sex offenders should have a fair trial? Which statement do you think the voters will remember at election time?

  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:36PM (#16035156)
    Once one set of people (eg prisoners held under suspicion of terrorism) are held with no hearing, then it is just a small step to treading on others because they just look perverted. Where does this stop? When all citizens are placed under house arrest because they might be criminals of some sort or other.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:43PM (#16035188)
    I do certainly hope that this bill gets thrown out, either by the state legislature or the supreme court (at whatever level). For more fun, check out the link to the submitter. Let's just say that unless it's a pretty amazing troll, the submitter might have a far more specific personal stake against a law like this than just the overall civil liberties issues.

    The civil liberties issues around this bill are tremendous and really creep me out (I'd love to think that something like this would get laughed out of the legislature in my own state, but I don't have THAT much faith any more) - but the submitter creeps me out as well. Seems like the submitter is trying to conflate loving children with having sexual activity with them. Unless, of course, it's a very elaborate troll.

    Yeah, posting as AC. So sue me.
  • by Hamster Lover ( 558288 ) * on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:49PM (#16035210) Journal
    If there is enough evidence for a "civil registry" that a person is a sex offender then why isn't there enough evidence to proceed to trial or for a civil suit? It sounds like Ohio simply wants to lower the bar on burden of proof to a case of "he says, she says". This system sounds utterly ripe for abuse and mismanagement. Why is it that people are trying to find ways around the justice system that we've established after nearly 200 years of jurisprudence? It can't be that difficult to convict suspected child molesters when the evidence is there. Our system of justice has grown out of almost 2000 years of fine tuning. If you don't have the evidence to convict someone or file a civil suit then maybe it's not there to begin with.

    On a related note, the Supreme Court of Canada decided a case this year of a woman studying to be a social worker in university that was falsly accused of being a child molester after her professor became "suspicious" of a paper she submitted on juvenile sex offenders that contained an appendix of graphic accounts of child molestation written in the first person. The professor felt that the first person narrative of the appendix constituted an admission of guilt to child molestation and contacted the program director who forwarded the appendix to Child Protection Services and the RCMP. Without going into the whole sordid story, suffice to say that the young lady was red flagged by CPS and the RCMP, dropped out of the social workers study she was undertaking on advice from the university (because she was red flagged, but the university did not tell her that), went almost three years without knowing she was a suspected child molester and upon discovering that she had a file that was red flagged, filed suit against the university. Up to this point absolutely no investigation had taken place. NONE. Just a suspicion of guilt from a professor at a university without any evidence of any kind. A jury found in her favor and she was awarded a large sum. The university appealed and won, and the young lady then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. By a miracle the SCOC took the case and found unanimously in her favor, establishing an important precedent. The university eventually did apologize, but there was outrage across Canada that this incident even occured. False accusations can and do happen.
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:51PM (#16035221) Journal
    Around where I live in Western PA(close to Ohio), there is a scheme where women find a rich man, sleep with him then accuse him of rape. They normally settle out of court for good money for the woman. Sometimes the woman is also under the age of 18 which makes it a double strike against the man. Sometimes the woman is a prostitute being pimped to a buisness man. Sometimes the woman never even sleeps with the guy, but just has evidence she was there with him on that night. I think if the accused get thrown in with the guilty, this scam is only just going to get bigger.
  • Re:Oh well! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ctr2sprt ( 574731 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:08PM (#16035286)
    The traditional phrase is, "innocent until proven guilty," which implies that you may never be proven guilty. Your turn of phrase, "innocent before proven guilty," implies that you're going to be proven guilty, but you're currently innocent.

    I disagree, in part. I feel that both phrasings suggest the eventual determination of guilt. "How long am I innocent?" "Until we prove you're guilty." In other words, you're going to be found guilty eventually, it's only a matter of time. And for the phrase you dislike: "When am I innocent?" "You're innocent before we prove you're guilty." Same deal here: you're going to be found guilty, they just don't know when yet.

    A phrasing more to your liking might be "Innocent unless proven guilty." There's no implication that you will ever be proven guilty of anything, and in fact that "unless" suggests to me that such proof will never happen. I mean, most of the time I hear "unless" in everyday speech it's right before someone describes something that we both know will never happen: "I can't get this to you before Friday unless I invent a time machine and prevent my boss from ever being born."

    I know it's very popular on Slashdot to go all 1984 when the topic is language, and I'm not saying that's always wrong. But it's not always right, either. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes people can use different words to mean exactly the same thing.

  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TCM ( 130219 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:17PM (#16035310)
    I don't see public lists of cleptomaniacs/arsonists/drunk drivers/..., either. And at least two of those can get people killed as well.
  • by AriaStar ( 964558 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:23PM (#16035327) Journal
    Men are worthy, and it pisses me off that a lot of stupid feminists believe that they are better than men simply for being women. Being able to carry a child does not inherently make one a better parent or person as so many feminists would like the entire world to believe.
  • Re:Imo: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:38PM (#16035387)
    oh, it's more than just being watched...

    ...the person would be subjected to the same registration and community notification requirements and restrictions on where he could live.

    The restrictions on where you can live requirement is a big issue. Many states have created absurd rules for people on the registries, that basically make it illegal for them to live anywhere near a metropolitan area, because they can't live nearby a church, school, playground, anything.

    In Dekalb County, Georgia, the sheriff said that there are no locations in the county where someone on the registry can legally reside... so those people have to move to the more rural areas. Hope the country-folk like having child molesters next door.

    But I digress, the real deal with this thing is that it takes away a very important liberty interest for at least six years, with what sounds like a very limited procedure. We'll see, but this could turn out to be a violation of due process.

    At any rate, I'm sure there are some spouses in divorce who are looking at this as a golden opportunity.

  • by Bluude ( 822878 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:38PM (#16035388)
    Funny you bring up custody battles over children.

    Can you imagine how nasty those battles are going to get with this sort of law in place?

    One of my friends ex-husbands can already get the cops to raid her house every few months if she pisses him off. They have to do it because he says she is hurting the child and they have to check it out.
    Now he can ge her declared a sex offender as well. Sure she can do it back, but he can afford the better lawyers and would probably win.
  • by eddeye ( 85134 ) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:41PM (#16035404)

    I'm a second year law student, here's my take on this:

    First of all, it's a civil registry. I don't see an automatic due process issue because the state isn't meting out any punishment to those who are listed (i.e. there's no state-led deprivation of life, liberty, or property). You might argue that being listed is enough of a black mark that it effectively bars finding employment or housing, thereby creating a due process issue, but that hasn't been borne out in practice yet.

    If the accused can attend the hearing and present evidence in his defense before the judge, due process is satisfied so the above argument will be moot. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other part of the constitution this law would violate, but I haven't take con law yet so it's possible.

    While I'm not in favor of this law, it's not nearly as bad as the knee-jerk reaction indicates. Tossing around any old accusation won't cut it; a judge will be weighing the evidence and making the decision. Presumably the accused can attend the hearing and present his own evidence, lessening the effect of unfounded accusations even further. And for those worried about the crazy maverick judge who's just hell-bent on ruining your life, I would fully expect the decision can be appealed and the appellate court will review all the facts anew (on many issues the presiding judge has unchallenged discretion; this wouldn't be one of them).

    I can see where this law could be useful in cases where we know someone has committed a heinous act but the state can't punish him. Maybe the key evidence linking him is inadmissible in court (but still reliable). Maybe the statue of limitations has expired or there are jurisdictional problems. Maybe the victim is unwilling to press charges or has fled. Maybe what the person did is despicable but not criminal, e.g. someone with HIV who knowingly refuses to use protection or inform his/her partners. A criminal conviction is a very high bar. We can't always establish criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt even though we know for certain the person has done very bad things. Not saying I think this is the right approach, but it's not as harebrained as many here have suggested.

  • you aren't thinking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:16AM (#16035561)
    If you're on this registry, you can't get a job requiring any sort of licensure. Why don't you volunteer to be on it, MrWannaPasstheBarExam?

    No job in banking, law enforcement, health care, education, government. Not a big deal? Are you nuts?
  • judicial review? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gsn ( 989808 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:03AM (#16035709)
    This "preponderance of evidence" is denying people due legal process. They haven't been convicted presumably because of the statute of limitations and yet are being declared sex offenders. Until you have convicted someone they are innocent and like it or not deserve all their constituional rights. I'm rather uncomfortable with retrying people in a civil court after being found innocent by a criminal court. The lower standards in civil courts make me uncomfortable in general. Heck even in criminal courts with their stricter standard of evidence there are mistakes where an innocent person is falsely convicted, even in some cases put on death row. A preponderance of evidence is just begging for trouble. I'd love it if someone under this new law (if it doesn't get stricken down) can get through siz years and appeal and have his name removed and then charge the state with unecessary harrasment.

    Also you might read about sex offender laws in Kentucky. [enquirer.com] It was an interesting read from last month about a law restricting sex offenders from living within a 1000 feet of a school. I think it has a double jeopardy feel about it. The ACLU is on this one - the Ohio ACLU seems asleep on this latest development though.

    A lot of posters have said this is just politicians crying "Won't someone please think about the children" but its not just politicians wanting to be seen as being tough but also the parents - if you read the article theres a feeling that "Sorry these laws are unfair but you shouldn't have done it." I dont think laws like this will ever go away as long as there are people who clamor "Keep us safe from terrorists/sex offenders/communists/atheists/witches/(boogey man) even if that deprives some of us of our rights."

    I hope this law is found uncostituional but the solution is not passing laws and then having the ACLU fight for ages to get it declared unconstituional - its not passing them in the first place. I'm beginning to believe it my be worth having all bills pass through some intesive judicial review (no veto just a look over and a rubber stamp yes or a memo saying look at these bits a bit more) BEFORE actually being signed into law. This ought to be a much shorter proess than fighting the laws after they are passed. There is so much bad publicty to be had from opposing populist laws that its worth having another branch thats existence is mandated by the constituion be able to look at these laws and say "er... hold one one second."
  • by r00t ( 33219 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:30AM (#16035803) Journal
    He damn well does know what he is talking about. Check out the Duke University students accused of raping some lady. She's changed her story several times, there is no physical evidence, and she was with some other lady who wasn't out of sight for more than 15 minutes. The claim is that several students gang-raped her in every oriface. Eeeew. This happened in 15 minutes without leaving any physical evidence? Despite the absurdity of it all, the prosecuter still won't drop the case. He ought to put the lady on trial for false accusation, purgery, etc.

    The feminists demand a conviction though, so the case goes on.
  • by WillyPete ( 940630 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:45AM (#16035865)
    As an Ohio native living in California, this saddens me greatly. I would like to point out that the state government is Republican controlled. I'd also like to direct everyone's attention to the fact that this was the idea of catholic priests.

    Also, it is the implementation that counts here. It appears this will require a judge's approval, and while this certainly isn't optimal, it will render it largely meaningless in most cases. I certainly hope it gets thrown out before it cause any serious breaches of civil rights.

    As a caveat, it is fairly common to falsely accuse people of child abuse, particularly in divorce and custody situations. Quite a nasty new way to stick it to the ex.

    Not the Buckeye States proudest moment (though 2004 was worse in my book).
  • Years ago I ran into a friend of mine I hadn't seen in years. We got to talking and catching up. I'd known he had gone through a bad divorce but didn't know the details. Seems he left his wife at her request, moved in with a best friend during the seperation, and then finally got the divorce - only to be kicked out by his friend and find out that HE was the one she had been sleeping with..

    He had a child with that woman, even did a paternity test to be sure it was his after the divorce. Life moved on and he found a good woman who had a daugher from a previous marriage. So far so good, she operated a daycare business out of their new home - he worked for a Govt. agency. One day while they had his son for visitation the new girlfriend came upon the boy and her daugher playing a bit of "doctor". Alarmed that his young child would have such ideas he called in child protective services to have an investigation done. The day after the investigation was over with no wrongdoing found he had an officer visit his doorstep to deliver "papers" in a not so subtle manner. This in front of the folks picking up kids for daycare. The papers? Seems HE was being accused of molesting his son by the ex wife! Within a week the daycare business was toast, no one would dare take a chance with their kid right? An investigation ensued and like the previous investigation nothing was found - tit for tat right?

    Guess who is now on a sex offender watch list.. Yup, he was! Apparently not one of those "offical" ones run by the Govt but some other - he had no trouble fidning it online after being told. I'm not sure how they worded it to avoid being nailed for slander but sure enough he couldn't get off of it - heh like an RBL! It didn't matter that he had been cleared, these zealots seemed to be keeping his name "just in case" because after all he's been accused right? Mind you this guy holds a top secret clearance that required a regular polygraph to retain and still retained when we last spoke a few years ago. The wife? Well, he didn't levy a specific accusation like she did, just a concern that was checked out by social services. She and the ex best friend aren't on any lists as a result.

    Now I understand that parents today want to protect their kids (as did my parents) and that the serious offenders have a huge recidivism rate but does it make sense to put people on lists like this at the drop of a hat? That simply accusing someone is enough to ruin them? To make them so easily found that you can even find their homes on Google Maps? Ya, some are animals but do we strip them of all rights along with lesser offenders? When it's apparently so easy to get on the list? Some kid plays grab-ass in high school one day and gets branded for life - is that okay?

    It used to be that sexual harrassment charges were what you had to worry about killing your career and life but wow this is ALOT worse. It's really scary just how over the edge our society seems to have gone. Where does it end? Have things gotten worse since I was a kid or has society just gotten way more paranoid?
  • Re:Slander? Libel? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Tyro ( 247333 ) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:55AM (#16035934)
    It's anonymous in a lot of states.

    One of my physician colleagues just got an extremely unpleasant visit from Childrens's Services and a bunch of Police Officers for a bogus child abuse complaint... all phoned in nice-and-anonymously to a hotline. No consequences, no recrimination, and no worries for the little scumbag that made that bogus report. It certainly opens the door to plenty of harassment and abuse, particularly for people with a serious beef against you (ex-spouses, ex-gf/bfs, ex-business associates, angry neighbors, disgruntled customers or patients, the list goes on and on).

    And there's not a damned thing you can do about it.

    I take care of abused children in my ER, and I've seen some truly horrific cases. Some were heinous enough that they had me thinking the parents needed to be under the jail rather than in it... but there has to be a process to clear your name from this kind of thing if it's bogus. The "sexual offender" label is damaging and libelous enough that it could literally ruin your business, or your life.
  • by AriaStar ( 964558 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:41AM (#16036171) Journal
    So the father and mother both choose to have sex. Why should one get all the enjoyment of the child at the expense of the other? Why should they not be treated as equally important and BOTH have EQUAL time with the child and share expenses equally?

    Clearly you haven't been in the courtroom when these accusations have come out. A woman claims molestation and the father is so severely stigmatized that he has no chance. Clearly you haven't heard of parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. Clearly you aren't familiar with a judge's reluctance to sensence a mother to jail. I've seen, in person, in the courtroom, cases that would make you naseated with anger, the kind I feel right now, and you would want to severely hurt every single person who makes a knowingly-false accusation for selfish gains. And this law is now going to allow, no, encourage that. While it doesn't say, "Hey, accuse people for fun!" if people know that they can accuse and get what they want, they will. This also opens the door for blackmail. "Give me what I want, buy me what I want, or I will accuse you."
  • by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:40AM (#16036620)
    The man with the HIV can't. Shouldn't the public be warned about this guy, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not the want to have sex with him

    Problem obviously is that such warnings will not only be read by people wanting to have sex with him, but also people wanting to employ him, living near him, etc., and some of them will deny him those other pursuits of happiness, even though they are completely unrelated to his illness.

    Yes, you are advocating to discriminate on basis of illness, the same kind of attitude that our savior fought against 2000 years ago. Hypocrite!

    COps deny a lawyer, because they are attempting to sweat a confession. Hours later, after filling him with coffe and water, they deny him use of the bathroom.

    Well, if it was me who was subjected to such treatment, I'd just wet my pants or better: the officer's desk ;-)

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @06:43AM (#16036947)

    And I thought size didn't matter! If you really think that then you're stupid. Between being locked in a 10x10 cell and being able to live everywhere but a few areas is a bit different, even if only by a matter of degree.

    So, should those living in a 5x10 cell have their sentence halved ?

  • by ThatDamnMurphyGuy ( 109869 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:26AM (#16037617) Homepage
    I hate shit like this. This is one of those topics that flips my rant bit quite harshly. I'm fine with putting Child Sexual Predators on a list.
    Fine. Parents want to know where they live. Fine. People want to keep them away from schools. Fine.

    But for the love of all that is reasonable, every fucking state in the nation needs to properly define what a Sexual Offender is. Everyone sees a name on a Sexual Offender list and assumes every person on it is a child molster. That that case of the guy who stalked and murdered two people in Maine last year that were on a list. One WAS a child predator. The other was 18 and banged his under age girlfriend and the parents caused a ruckass. That guy had no business being on that list. Hell, in some states, getting busted for public urination w/ your johnson hanging get's you on the Sexual Offenders list.

    This bill and my retarded state just goes to prove my point. You're 30, poked your 16yo gf when you were 18. YOu got busted showing your dick in public while taking a piss on a drunk night. You don't deserve to be on this list, and harrased like a criminal because some asshat can't make understand the difference between sexual offenders, sexual predators, and sexual child predators.

    Rant mode off.
  • by binary paladin ( 684759 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <nidalapyranib>> on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:49AM (#16037731)
    I dunno about a civil war necessarily, but the USA is on a road to collapse. You cannot make the economic and legal choices we continue to make without eventually being crushed under your own weight. And with collapse two things happen: A hero or a tyrant. We'll either rise like a phoenix or get a Hitler at our head. Oh well... at least we get to look forward to the fact that things have to get worse before the population and/or economy hits critical mass and things go nuts.

    Given the pansy asses that make up most of the population now... my money is on economic collapse before the citizens wake up.
  • CREEPY. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @05:35PM (#16039871)
    Want to talk about creepy? Click on the link to the submitter. I feel... dirty, now. That's freakish. it's one thing to be a person who "likes" or even "loves" kids, like, "oh, i love your son, he's a nice boy" or "your daughter is sweet, it's a joy watching her"; it's another to call yourself a "paedophile" and hold the belief that you can have a meaningful relationship with a child in the same way as an adult. That's highly, highly disturbing and disturbed. Even if you do decry sexual abuse, that title of "paedophile" is one that we as a society have now reserved for those who are in fact sexually abusing a child. Claiming that title is not something that "nice people" who just "like kids" should fight for. Isn't it enough just to say that you like kids?

    (I don't know if I need to say this, but any sexual contact with a child is abusive. It doesn't matter how "nurturing" or "responsive" you are, they just aren't emotionally equipped for it. at all. period. I'm not sure this is something these folks understand.)

    I really do wonder, though, about the supposed preponderance of abusers and molesters out there. Do that many people -really- sexually abuse their children? While I'm certain it happens, I fear a witch-hunt occuring in the public mind, spurred on by overzealous litigators and politicans looking for an issue to latch on to for nothing more than voting purposes. Further, it's a topic I loathe to research personally, because it just makes me feel sick. I hope that somebody with a stronger stomach has or will step up to the plate. Someone put an end to this disgusting, freakish practice and even more disturbing witch hunt once and for all, and in a manner that will not disturb the civil rights of anyone.

    I'm posting this as AC because I am thouroughly creeped out by this topic. I'm really creeped out by this topic, and I don't really want to be hounded about it, even though I've got something to say.

About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends. -- Herbert Hoover