In case anyone was wondering about the lawsuit we initiated in late 2007 to stop Ohio from applying state Senate Bill 10 (enforcing the then newly passed federal Adam Walsh Act) to me….
Why does this matter? Under Megan’s Law (which I came out of prison under and am now under again), I was (and am) required to register with the sheriff’s office once a year for 10 years, because a judge (taking into consideration all the particulars of the accusation, the trial, the psych experts who evaluated me, etc.) placed me in the lowest possible risk category — least likely to offend. This means that 10 years after my release from prison (which in my case comes to 22 years post-accusation), I will be off the state’s sex offender registry. My being on it is a big reason I’ve had difficulty procuring monetarily gainful employment — because as long as I’m on it, not just my place of residence but my workplace, wherever that may be, also appears on the sex offender registry. For example, Convenient Food Mart and Borders Books are reluctant to hire me because they don’t want their businesses to appear on the registry, which would almost certainly deter at least some customers from shopping there. But at least that should all be over for me come 2014 when my ten years are up and I’m off the public registry.
Ohio Senate Bill 10 (again, an extension of the federal Adam Walsh Act), which went into effect in January 2008, threw out the judge’s (and other experts’) determination of “likelihood to offend” on which my duration of registration was based and instead based the state’s categorization of any “sex offender” solely on his or her “crime of conviction.” So… because I went to trial and wound up being convicted of one count of rape, the Adam Walsh Act ignored that I was deemed low or no risk by my trial judge, the parole board, and psychological experts who evaluated me in and out of prison. It saw only a rape conviction and, based on that, reclassified me into the highest risk category. Meanwhile, many who were accused of (and who actually committed) more heinous crimes (and more counts of them) — and who were therefore classified by their judges as sexual predators and put into the highest risk category under the old Megan’s Law — ended up catching a break under the new Adam Walsh Act, because the crimes they were convicted of were far less serious than the crimes they were accused of. Why? Because they took plea deals to lesser charges, thus sparing their victims the trauma of appearing in court at a trial and sparing themselves harsher sentences. The Adam Walsh Act cares only about “crime of conviction,” not “likelihood to offend.” So under it, some of the convicted sex offenders deemed most likely to offend in the future got their registration requirements lessened (because they’d pleaded guilty to lesser charges), while I (charged with only one count and convicted at trial, whether actually guilty or not) had mine increased from once every year for ten years to once every three months for life.
I filed suit in December 2007 to prevent the state from applying the misguided and counterproductive Adam Walsh Act to me retroactively. A local judge almost immediately issued an injunction preventing said application until various legal challenges made their way through the courts. And finally this year, higher courts agreed the Act should not be applied to me (not just me) — and as a result, I received the above letter from the Attorney General. Now I should be “free” again in 2014 instead of wearing the unnecessary albatross of being on the state’s public registry for life. Maybe then Convenient Food Mart or Borders Books (if they’re still around) will hire me.