Ohio to Join 2 Other States with Arsonist Registry

Looking to reduce the economic and human cost of arson, the state is creating an arsonist registry to make catching repeat offenders easier.

wildfire
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Ohio has had more than 8,000 arsons nearly every year since 2007, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and more than 450 lives to be taken, according to the Associated Press. To try to prevent future fires, the state is joining California and Louisiana in creating an arsonist registry.

Under a new law that takes effect July 1, anyone living in the state who has been or is convicted of arson-related offenses in Ohio or elsewhere will be required to register annually with their local sheriffs. They must do so for 10 years after they're released from prison. Officials believe the registry will help them apprehend repeat arsonists because they tend to follow the same patterns.

Unlike sex offender registries -- many of which are public -- the arsonist registry will only be available for law enforcement's eyes.

Illinois also passed a law to create an arsonist registry in 2004, but has had trouble implementing it. In the West, Texas and Washington state lawmakers have made unsuccessful attempts to establish such a registry.

Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.
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