OH: Ohio’s arson registry just turned 10 years old. Is it working?

Source: cantonrep.com 8/17/23

  • In 2013, Ohio lawmakers passed Section 2909.15 of the Ohio Revised code, creating the statewide arson registry.
  • There are currently 1,377 individuals registered as arson offenders.
  • Fire officials and investigators say the registry is a valuable tool.
  • Other experts argue the database is ineffective and unconstitutional.

 Shawndra Brown decided to set a car on fire following a domestic dispute.

That was in 2013. As part of her sentence, the 35-year-old Columbus resident was required to register once a year, every year, as an arson offender — her name becoming one of the first to appear on Ohio’s arson registry database.

“I can’t say it’s unfair because we did commit a crime,” Brown said. “I just think the terms of it can be a bit excessive.”

As Ohio’s arson registry turns 10 years old, the debate continues over whether it’s an effective program or it violates constitutional rights, a question that is now pending before the Ohio Supreme Court. The state launched the registry in July 2013 as a tool for arson investigators, modeling the program after a similar database for sex offenders. The assumption was that people caught setting fires may do so again.

At the time, state officials said they weren’t sure how many arsonists were living in Ohio. Today, there are 1,377 individuals registered as arson offenders in the state. But it’s unclear how many of those are repeat offenders, as the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which maintains the statewide database, says it doesn’t keep track of whether those on the registry are arrested again.

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Much like our sex offender registry in Ohio the arson registry is useless as well. Pretty interesting article where you can see the similarities between the two.

Well, if I lived in Ohio I would want to know if one of my neighbors were on the arson list. This way I would know that I would have to get extra extra extra home owners insurance for fire and for my car.

Wow, good thing there is a list or I would only have regular home owners insurance.

Hey, question: If someone is on the arson list in Ohio are they still allowed to have a BBQ in their backyard?

I wonder if you throw a lit cigarette out of your car window in Ohio if that can land you on the registry?

Give me a break!!

Registries only “work’ when it comes to shaming people. Registries are basically electronic stockades, but instead of them being in the town square, they’re available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet.

They “succeed” in maligning one’s character.

I don’t care if a pyro lives down the street from me. I DO care about people that have loud dogs, those that cut their grass every day, and kids screaming all the time though.

Here’s the problem with the arson registry compared to the sex offender registry. Is there any living restrictions being on the arson registry? Can you not live near a fire department? Do you have to live near a fire hydrant? Can you not go to a neighborhood barbecue? No Park barbecues for you! Unless there’s something restricting your living, thier registry doesn’t compare to the sex offender registry.

The full article is available on yahoo without the paywall

It this would be determined to be unconstitutional in Ohio, the sex registry definitely is. This registry is not public, not retroactive except to those still incarcerated at the time of its passage – or become incarcerated after – and allows for judicial discretion when it comes to registration beyond the 10-year mark.

It’s still as dumb as the registry. Technology today should be able to allow investigators to use past arrest and conviction data already available without a registry to find people of interest so a non-public register has little value added today.

Do they get compliance checks? Do they get stormed by those in jackets emblazoned with initials and guns drawn? Is there a Byrne (get it?) grant supplementing local budgets? Are neighbors notified with fliers? Are people protesting their presence in the ‘hood? Is LE outside banging to draw attention and loudly annoucing their presence? Do they have travel restrictions? Marked passports? Notification requirements? Do their kids get bullied at school and elsewhere?

Hell, grass, brush, bushes, and trees are flammable too so what about restricting them from those areas which are tinder and dry from lack of moisture? What about couches after a championship win? Stacks of paper or cardboard? They burn too. A good torch can be destructive too just as a pocket lighter or matches is and even better with an accelerator.

If not, then I am crying foul because they are treated better than those who are on another registry and that is in violation of the EPC of the Constitution.

I don’t know the specifics of the argument, but is it legal to put people on registries for past crimes? Yes. The courts have ruled in most states that they can. Although, where the line is drawn is unknown. Can legislators build 10 offense databases and require everyone that has a conviction to update said databases for life? For public safety of course.. .When put like that, it seems pretty absurd. I don’t think that would pass constitutional muster. However, the arguments would be the exact same as the ones against the SO registry. Would they receive different results?? I don’t know. Either way, I’m Interested how this turns out.

California has registries for arson, & drug dealers. I am not sure if either shows ones photo or home address though. I only know because I always have to check which of the three that I am there to register for.

The most important question for any Registry, including this one, is have they been able to use it effectively to grow governments as much as it will support? Have they been able to expand government? Have they been able to monetize the Registry and to what degree? Have they been able to use it to grow their budgets and expand it even to other areas (e.g. by using it to fear monger to purchase equipment, etc.).

Beyond that, have the private entity grifters and fleecers been able to monetize this Registry well? Have they been able to maximize profits? There are all kind of people who live off of the monetization of the Sex Offense Registries. This one should be the same.

Of course it is not working – it is underage! Wait until it turns 18! 🙄

All registry’s are useless, it’s just A tool used for public shaming and for the DA when considering punishment during sentencing for a new crime no matter what it is

I think it’s well intentioned, and I’ve heard people throughout the years on this forum asking why other offenses don’t require registration. But from the many comments joking about the arson registry, people are beginning to realize that registries only work for sex offenses. And the reason has always been the same. There’s no greater stigma than a sex offense against a child.

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council “firefighter arson (that is, fires intentionally set by firefighters) is a long-standing problem that impacts fire departments and communities across the nation,” suggesting it is “not a new phenomenon.” (see link below for the article).

True, this research was conducted in Canada, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this problem is not limited to just that country.

The Captain quoted in this article says the registries are useful because fire marshalls can then go question (harass) registrants to determine if they have any knowledge of an incident. Being on the registry is all the probable cause they need evidently.

When an arson occurs, this Captain may first want interrogate those who work under his direction as those in the firefighting profession apparently are just as likely to have commited the arson as anyone on the registry.

I’m betting the good Captain is well aware of this.

I should also point out that a notorious case in California centered on John Orr, who was suspected of 2000 arsons, as well as four murders, and other crimes. Orr was a FIRE CAPTAIN and ARSON INVESTIGATOR. He’s currently doing life in a Califronia prison for his crimes.

But not all firefighters are bad people.


Two quotes by the same fire investigator stand out to me as they duplicate the lies told about the sex offender registry and are mutually exclusive.

The database is geared toward habitual offenders. Canton Fire Captain Derek Paige said there have been many instances where re-offenders are arrested with help from the database. He was unable to provide any specific case details.

According to the BCI, the database does not keep track of how many times an offender is re-arrested for arson.

If the database does not keep track of how many times an offender is re-arrested for arson then how do they know that the person arrested is a reoffender by looking only at the database? Additionally its funny how he knows that there are “many instances where re-offenders are arrested with help from the database, but he is unable to provide any specific case details.” If he was able to arrest them from the information contained on the database then why is he unable to provide any specific case details about the “many re-offenders arrested from the help of the database”? If the database helped then you should be able to point to the case the database helped close. It should not be “It helped, but I can’t come up with any specific case where it helped.”

The most important line in this whole story, “….the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which maintains the statewide database, says it doesn’t keep track of whether those on the registry are arrested again.”

But, “Fire officials and investigators say the registry is a valuable tool.”

Complete and total BS!