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Published: Wednesday, 10/6/2010

Tracking sex offenders

OHIO is moving proactively to keep better track of registered sex offenders. With the help of a federal grant, the state is launching an automated system that should save time and money for local sheriff's departments.

The system, called Active Contact, automatically calls offenders to remind them to renew contact with Ohio's electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification program. The system regularly updates the registry and verifies the accuracy of its data.

Discrepancies or a disconnected phone number would alert authorities that an offender may have tried to relocate secretly. That information would allow sheriffs to use resources more efficiently when they assign deputies to investigate offenders' registration in person.

The new system will reimburse sheriffs for pursuing high-level offenders who flee Ohio. Some offenders have avoided prosecution because their home counties can't afford the overtime and travel expenses needed to find and extradite them.

The system is scheduled to take effect in all 88 Ohio counties by next month. Keeping current on the whereabouts of the more than 20,000 registered sex offenders in Ohio, and going after those who don't register with the state's reporting program as the law requires, are essential to public safety.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray secured federal funding to launch Active Connect. But long after that grant expires, the automated system should continue to benefit the state and its residents.



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