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Registries being used for more and more crimes

It is pretty well-known that one of the consequences being convicted of a sex offense can have is being listed on a sex offender registry. However, in some states, the use of registries is not just limited to sex offenses. The use of registries for non-sex offenses had been expanding in the U.S. over the past several years, according to an Associated Press review.

Among the non-sex offenders that some states require to submit to registration are:

  • Certain “habitual” felony offenders.
  • Those convicted of certain non-sex violent offenses.
  • Certain drug offenders.
  • Certain repeat drunk driving offenders.

Ohio is one of the states that doesn’t limit its use of criminal registries to just those convicted of sex offenses. It also has a registry for individuals with five or more drunk driving convictions. Also, some state lawmakers are looking into the possibility of adding a registry for non-sex violent offenses.

As that last point illustrates, in addition to the use of criminal registries having grown in recent years, there is the potential for it to grow even more, as some states are considering adding additional registries.

In this environment of expanding use of registries, there are some very important questions to ask regarding registries, including:

  • Are they actually effective in reducing crime and making communities safer? Research has indicated that they might not be.
  • Are they fair? Being required to be on a criminal registry can expose a person to many things, including: difficulties in finding a place to live, difficulties in finding employment and costs (in some registries, some of the costs of maintaining the registry are passed on to the individuals on it). And since a requirement to register can apply for quite a large time frame (in some cases the rest of a person’s life), they can be exposed to these consequences for a long time indeed. So, whether or not a given crime has a registry requirement attached to it can have significant implications for those accused of the crime. Thus, when thinking of having registration be required for a given crime, it can be important for lawmakers to think about whether this punishment (and its significant implications) would actually fit the crime.

What do you think of the trend of increased use of registries? What do you think the long-term implications of this trend will be in the nation as a whole and here in Ohio?

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