New ‘scarlet letter’ for predators in Ohio?

/ Source: The Associated Press

The cars of sexual predators would be marked by fluorescent green license plates under a unique proposal before Ohio lawmakers.

A bill introduced Wednesday by two legislators, Democratic Rep. Michael DeBose and Republican Sen. Kevin Coughlin, would require all habitual and child-oriented sex offenders to display the easy-to-spot plates.

It is something no other state has tried, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though some require a designation to appear on sex offenders’ driver’s licenses. An earlier Ohio proposal to require pink plates for sex offenders was unsuccessful.

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who took office in January, would sign the bill, press secretary Keith Dailey said.

Rights group charges political motive
Christine Link, executive director American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, criticized the proposed requirement as political grandstanding. She said it could leave children with the idea that anyone without one of the special plates was safe to approach.

But Coughlin said the plates would send parents and children an instant message to beware. Ohio already requires repeat drunken drivers to display bright yellow license tags.

The bill is the latest in a series of new laws Ohio has passed to crack down on sex crimes against children.

Among them: tougher mandatory minimum sentences for rapists whose victims are under age 13; increased penalties for public indecency involving victims under 13; and mandatory tracking devices after those classified as sexually violent predators serve their prison sentences.