“Ohio’s sex offender registration system plays a critical role in holding convicted offenders accountable, and in the hands our county sheriffs, these tools ensure that photographs are clear and uniform across the state,” Yost said. “Our job is to support local law enforcement, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this grant.”
County sheriffs are responsible for documenting sexual offenders, including photographing them. Convicted sex offenders are required to register their home, school and work addresses, report changes in addresses, and periodically verify addresses with the sheriff in their respective county.
In total, $384,283 in upgrades have been made to the registration system. The money came from a grant provided by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART), part of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Deputy Mike Jacobs has been a assign to the Butler County registered sex offender unit since 2009 and along with Deputy Toby Spencer is tasked with registering offenders when they are released from prison or jail, then making sure then continue to comply.
But contact with Jacobs happens long before release. He is in court at the time of sentencing to make sure the offender knows the requirements.
“I give them my card for when they are released from prison and or jail, ” Jacobs said.
He added in most cases, offenders hold on to those cards because failure to comply can result in an added felony offense.
Ohio law currently requires offenders designated by the judge as Tier III offenders to register every 90 days for life, Tier II offenders to register every 180 days for 25 years and Tier I offenders to register once a year for 15 years.
As of Jan. 12, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office listed 571 register sex offenders. Jacobs said in 2022, the county registered 93 additional sexual offenders and 13 died.
Recent laws require certain convicted violent offenders and those convicted of an arson-related crime to also register. Jacobs said the unit is also managing 74 arson offenders and 77 violent offenders.
Jacobs estimates 90 percent of those registering follow the rules when first released. Deputies follow up on any tips received about noncompliance. Released offenders have three business days to register at the unit’s office located in the county Historic Courthouse where they are photographed and fingerprinted in addition to registering where they are living and working.
Every month, about 20 to 30 random in-person compliance checks are conducted by deputies to assure those registered are living in the proper registered address. A large in-person sweep is conducted once a year.
Residents can access the database of registered offenders on the BCSO website and sign up for email notifications if an offender moving their area.
If a Tier III register sex offender moved into a neighborhood, residents within 1,000 will also receive a notice by mail.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY ONLINE
To search the Butler County Sheriff’s Office’s sex offender registry database, go online to butlersheriff.org/general-info/sex-offender-info.