A federal district court ruled today that Ohio’s sex offender residency law could not be applied to Lane Mikaloff of Akron, a rapist whose crime occurred two decades before the law was passed in 2003. See Mikaloff v. Walsh, Northern District of Ohio, Hon. James S. Gwin, presiding, Case 5:06-cv-00096-JG (Sept. 4, 2007; decision, 22-pp pdf.; hat tip: The Parson). According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, in “Judge’s sex offender ruling blasted” (Sept. 4, 2007):
U.S. District Judge James Gwin [of the Northern District of Ohio, Akron Division] said the law, which bars offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, amounts to an additional, retroactive punishment for people who already have served their sentences.
He said such punishments violate the U.S. Constitution and impose an excessive burden on offenders that could continue for the rest of their lives.
“The law goes well beyond parole in that it never allows a sex offender to reintegrate into society,” Gwin wrote in his decision. “Subjecting a sex offender to constant ouster from his or her home seems a significant deprivation of liberty and property interests.
“It sentences them to a life of transience, forcing them to become nomads.” . . .
“It is unclear that the residency restriction denies sex offenders access and opportunity to school children.”
The NYCLU has made similar arguments in opposing the Schenectady County, NY, residence restrictions. For more coverage of the Mikaloff case, see “Judge rules in favor of sex offender in residency case,” Springfield News-Sun/AP (Sept. 4, 2007); and Prof. Corey Yung’s Sex Crimes weblog, “Ohio Residency Restrictions cannot Constitutionally Apply Retroactively” (Sept. 4, 2007). Click here for the Mikaloff v. Walsh decision.
The Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center represented Mikaloff. David Singleton, the center’s executive director, said: “This is a landmark ruling that will have national impact as courts around the country address the growing number of such restrictions.” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters opined that “The decision is a mistake. I just wish that sometimes they’d think of the kids that get abused.” Deters also asserted (incorrectly) that Gwin has “no business commenting about the effectiveness or wisdom of the law,” as a judge’s job is only to interpret the law.
the school children take—
a new layer of leaves matted into the old
the sweetness of the cake
hard to swallow
over the parade—
a window no one
looks out of
the same knot
in my tie
……………………………………………… by Gary Hotham ..