Consider law changes, but keep kids safe

Most people probably would agree an elderly and/or infirm person should not be turned away from a nursing home just because he had a brush with the law many years ago.

It also is likely most people agree that in many cases, people who have served time in prison deserve second chances.

But what if the brush with the law involved sexually assaulting a child? What if the prison time was for rape?

Ohioans — or, at least, their representatives on a state panel called the Criminal Justice Recodification Committee — has this topic on its radar.

It has been suggested the state’s sex offender registry system should be altered to give people on it better options to get off if there is a low risk of them repeating their crimes.

Among situations that would seem to call for such changes are reports of a few elderly people being turned away from nursing homes because their names were found on the registry. There also have been complaints the current system’s residency restrictions are unnecessarily harsh. Among the rules is one barring sex offenders from living near schools.

Advocates of change say it clearly is merited in view of the fact many of those on the registry have not committed sex offenses since their initial convictions.

That sounds logical, until one asks whether their very presence on the registry was what kept them from becoming recidivists.

Many sex offenders are on the registry for nonviolent offenses such as showing pornography to minors. Perhaps some very cautious amendments — such as, for example, classifying an elderly man convicted decades ago of a non-violent offense as low risk — should be considered.

But it bears keeping in mind that no one on the registry would be there without having broken the law. And it also should be taken into account that many of the offenders victimized children.

No change bearing with it even the most remote possibility of placing Buckeye State children in danger should be considered.