Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Long-Term Care Facilities May be Required to Notify Residents of Sexual Ofenders Under Combs Bill

Columbus – Some of Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens call a long-term care facility home. These citizens are the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled, and those who could not otherwise take care of themselves. In the state of Ohio these citizens could be housed with sexual offenders just released from prison and they would never know it – leaving them exposed to unspeakable dangers.

HB 24, given its sponsor testimony today by State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Hamilton), would add a new provision to the sexual offender registration law to ensure that management of long-term care facilities notify residents and sponsors when a sexual offender is taken as a resident of a facility.
Current law requires some sexual offenders to register with local law enforcement. When the offender moves into a neighborhood, the community is notified of the offender’s presence for safety reasons. However, when a registered sexual offender moves into a long-term care facility, there is no such notification - a gap that may put many at risk.
“There is no reason a sexual offender living in a long-term care facility should face different requirements than any other offender,” Combs said. “Citizens living in a long-term care facility must be protected like any other citizen and it is the responsibility of facility management to notify the residents and their sponsors.”
Under House Bill 24, the local Sheriff’s office would notify the facility where the offender is being placed and it would be the responsibility of the facility to notify all residents and sponsors.
“House Bill 24 serves as protection for all Ohioans living in long-term care facilities,” said Combs. “It is my hope that with this legislation we can put to rest any fears residents and their families have about who their neighbors may be.”
Similar legislation was introduced by Combs in the 127th General Assembly where it passed out of the House but died in the Senate. Combs’ bill will have its second hearing in the House Criminal Justice committee in the coming weeks.