Arson registry could help stamp out fires

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A new law went into effect on Monday that will help fire departments solve arson cases.

Communities such as Youngtown could see real results from the legislation that mirrors Megan’s Law, which targets sexual offenders. Youngstown has the highest per capita arson rate in the country, and just last month several houses in the city were set on fire. A new registry system, that requires anyone convicted of arson related offenses to register their address, could help solve those cases.

“We will be pulling individuals who are presently incarcerated and who were convicted of an arson or related offense and we will be reclassifying them and notifying them of their new requirements under the law,” said Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Gabe Wildman.

Those who move in from other states and were convicted of arson will also have to register with the local sheriff’s office. Much like Megan’s Law that addresses sex crimes, those convicted of arson will have to register once a year for the rest of their lives. One of the main differences from Megan’s Law is that residents will not be notified if an arsonist is living near them.

Youngstown Arson investigator Alvin Ware believes the new law will help deter people from committing the crime.

“We see a lot of repeat offenders, but this way we know where they are at, where they are located if we have fires in the area. We’ll know where to look,” said Ware.

Each offender will be required to pay a $50 fee for their initial registration and $25 each year following.

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