“A University of Akron instructor is seeing green. Or rather, he wants to public to see green. Also a state senator, Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) proposed a bill in February that would require sexual offenders to display flourescent green license plates on their vehicles.””
A University of Akron instructor is seeing green.
Or rather, he wants the public to see green.
Also a state senator, Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) proposed a bill in February that would require sexual offenders to display flourescent green license plates on their vehicles.
The bill is the first of its kind and has gained popularity among the public and media.
I’ve been in the legislature 10 years and I’ve never had a bill that’s gotten more attention than this one, Coughlin said. In a two week period, I was on with Anderson Cooper, Glen Beck, Fox and MSNBC and just a ton of radio shows around the country.
The public has gotten behind Coughlin, the senator said.
Every poll that I have seen on a license plate or sexual offenders …. is about two-thirds in favor of doing it, Coughlin said. We have over 700 registered sex offenders in Summit County alone living in our community, 15,000 statewide.
Coughlin said he designed the bill to give people information and allow them to make decisions that will help to keep themselves and their families safe.
People will have more info about the whereabouts of the most violent sex offenders that are in our community, he said. If we are able to stop one kid from accepting a ride, or help somebody get away or if we’re able to spot an offender who is casing a school ground or a playground and call the police, then it’s a success.
The proposed green plates are similar to the yellow drunken driving plates already in use in Ohio. However, Ohio will have different guidelines regarding who will receive a plate.
It’s a little unique in that it’s not tied to repeat offense, it’s tied to the kind of crime you commit, Coughlin said. Basically, if you commit rape, sexual battery, kidnapping with a sexual motivation, murder or attempted murder with a sexual motivation, and then commit a wider array of crimes against children, that’s who gets the plate.
Those who are punished with the plate will have it for a term of five years.
After five years, Coughlin said, you could go to the judge and say look, ‘I’m not a threat any more,’ and the judge will make a decision whether or not you should keep the plate for another term or if it can be removed.
Who doesn’t get the plate is what I would call a low-grade sex offender.
Low-grade offenses include public indecency, statutory rape and public urination.
Coughlin said the yellow and red DUI plates are a mark of shame, something like a scarlet letter. He said they are not meant to protect people, whereas that is exactly what the green plates are designed to do.
While the bill does exclude low-grade offenders, not everyone supports it
We may have to put in some enhanced penalties for vigilantism, because what we’re hearing and the big pushback that we’re getting right now surprisingly is coming from some law enforcement, Coughlin said. Prosecutors, some sheriffs and police chiefs have all come out and said that they’re not comfortable with this bill because they think it will lead to a rise in vigilantism.
Coughlin agrees that these concerns are legitimate and thinks they should not be ignored on this bill. However, he said there is no data to back this claim of vigilantism.
My response to them is two things, Coughlin said. First we’ve been publishing the names, faces and addresses of sex offenders for over a decade and we haven’t seen vigilantisms. We know they live in the community, and we haven’t seen firebombing of houses or egging of houses.
Second, we’ve had three or four years with these DUI plates going around and we haven’t had people run off the road or cars keyed or anything like that.
Other rebuttals to the green plate legislation say it is unconstitutional. Coughlin disagrees.
These laws, SORN laws, (sex offense registration notification laws), and conditions of release have been tested and tested and retested and the courts all over the country over the last decade, and the courts have always upheld the rights of state to do this, he said. People like the ACLU need to realize that law-abiding citizens have rights too.
We’ve got a right to protect ourselves and families. We’ve got a right to know where these people are in our community.
Coughlin said he hopes to pass the bill by the end of the year and said if it gets through the legislative process, Gov. Ted Strickland has already said he would sign the bill into law.
We think we’re going to pass the bill. We may have to make a couple changes to it, tighten it up a little bit in terms of who gets the plate.
“” #1.1362101:3090430502.jpg:KEV1.jpg:Ohio Sen. and University of Akron instructor Kevin Coughlin addresses College Republicans Monday. Coughlin discussed his ideas to improve the state of Ohio.:”