YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Tuesday night, WKBN 27 First News reported about sexual offenders and trick or treat – how people can use the sex offender registry to track offenders in their neighborhood.
The next day, we received an email from the president of a group called Women Against Registry. They say the concept of publicly shaming people on the sex offender registry is unfair. Here’s our effort to tell both sides of the story.
Women Against Registry claim they are “Fighting the Destruction of Families.” The organization has about 950 members.
President Vicki Henry has a son convicted of child pornography, who must register in a way similar to those here in Mahoning County. Henry says making the information public hurts the families of the person registered.
“It’s just a fear-mongering tool,” Henry said. “There are females who have lost their job because somebody found out they were married to a registered citizen.”
She told of an 11-year-old boy in Rhode Island who enrolled in a private school and whose father had been convicted of child pornography.
“Two days in, the director called mom and said you have to come get him. He can’t go to school here. So, the 11-year-old is like what did I do to deserve all of this,” Henry said.
Women Against Registry has one goal.
“We want the registry abolished, as our name says,” Henry said.
Henry points out that some on the registry are convicted for sexting, public urination, and mooning. She claims that only 7% of those registered end up as repeat offenders, adding that all 50 states have registries and there’s no sign of any of the states dropping them.
“It started out to be rapists and repeat rapists and repeat molesters and that kind of thing. Now, it just keeps growing,” she said. “They will be attacked when they open the door. They will be shot through the door. Their houses will be burned, just obnoxious things that vigilantes do that people do who think they are doing the right thing.”
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene has been active in arresting people looking to have sex with children. When asked if we should keep the sexual registry he said, “Oh, God yes.”
“It is 100% a good tool. It’s a way of notifying parents of what’s going on in their neighborhood,” he said.
Greene said he has heard of police of who publicly mark homes of sexual predators but he is against that.
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