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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ind. Law - "Sex offender ban gains steam"; "The Supreme Court did not provide guidance on this issue . . . by refusing to hear an appeal"

Robert Annis reports today in the Indianapolis Star:

Lebanon may follow the lead of several other area municipalities in banning sex offenders from public parks, but the possibility for such a law in Zionsville remains uncertain.

Last month, the Indiana Supreme Court declined to overturn Plainfield's ban on sex offenders in public parks, spurring Lebanon to move forward with writing a similar ordinance. Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis said attorney Eileen Sims is drafting the ordinance, which will likely be presented to the City Council Sept. 14.

"We want to make sure we've researched it well and we're doing the right thing," Lewis said.

Lewis said an appeals process could be included in the ordinance, allowing certain offenders to be able to go to events with their family.

More than 50 registered sex offenders live in Lebanon, a handful within a few blocks of public parks.

In an earlier interview, Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said wanting to protect children was a noble goal, but he questioned whether such bans were effective.

"If a sex offender is going to a park (for criminal purposes), is a fine going to deter them from a crime they could go to prison for?" Falk asked.

Zionsville Town Manager Ed Mitro said a sex offender ban was discussed in 2006 after an assault on an 8-year-old boy on a YMCA trip at Creekside Park.

Mitro said the council decided to wait until the courts weighed in on the Plainfield ban. Now that it's settled, Mitro said the Town Council may move forward with a ban, although it may be a while due to other business facing the council.

"With as much as we have going on I don't know if we're going to have time," Mitro said. "We've got a lot of other fish to fry."

Council President Matt Price said in an e-mail Tuesday the council discussed the situation informally earlier this year while waiting on the Supreme Court's decision.

"I had understood that the Supreme Court did not provide guidance on this issue . . . by refusing to hear an appeal," Price said. "My sense is that the law is still quite unsettled in this area and that there are likely better ways to protect the public, rather than inviting lawsuits from the ACLU."

For background see this list of ILB entries, including this one from Aug. 31st headed "Court's trail confusing on sex offender rights".

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 3, 2009 01:08 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions | Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Government | Indiana Law