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The Suburbanite
  • New law will give authorities a new crime-solving tool

  • The issue: Statewide arson registry

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  • The issue: Statewide arson registry
     
    The state Legislature has passed a bill that lawmakers hope will help investigators to solve arson cases. We hope so, too.
    Arson is a fearsome crime, and the bill does what intuitively seems like a sensible thing to do: It creates a statewide registry of convicted arsonists, who would have to list their address annually with their county sheriff’s office.
    The initial paperwork will be provided by courts to sheriff’s offices; then it will be the offender’s responsibility to register again each year. Failure to do so will result in a fifth-degree felony charge that carries a possible $2,500 fine and one-year prison sentence. The registry will be maintained by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
    The bill still faces minor changes in the Senate and needs Gov. John Kasich’s signature. It will take effect Jan. 1.
    Ohio also has a registry for sex offenders, and that’s no coincidence. Both kinds of crime have high rates of recidivism.
    State Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, who sponsored the arson registry bill, says of arsonists, “More than 55 percent of these folks are repeat offenders.” Investigators have good reason for wanting to know their whereabouts.
    Residents of Canton know all too well how arson can threaten the safety of residents and firefighters and damage the security and value of neighborhoods. For the past few years, the arrival of good weather has brought with it a string of deliberately set fires.
    Communities where arson has been a problem have good reason for wanting this legislation to have an impact.