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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ind. Law - (1) 'Sexting' bill headed for study; (2) Procedure for resolving 'Wallace' issues discussed [Updated]

Jon Seidel of the Gary Post-Tribune has very interesting coverage of yesterday's House Judiciary Committee meeting:

Sexting. First, the House committee discussion of SB 224 (for background, see this Jan. 30, 2010 ILB entry on SB 224, headed "Student sexting in Indiana, are felonies the answer?"). Seidel reports in today's story:

INDIANAPOLIS -- Lawmakers plan to research the issue of teen "sexting" this summer before they pass a bill making it a delinquent act for minors.

The announcement was made in a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Led by Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, the committee is expected to amend a Senate sexting bill next week.

Once that happens, Lawson said, the only remaining provision that will deal with sexting will be one that allows high schools to talk about the issue in health classes.

The rest of the original sexting language, Lawson said, created too many unintended consequences.

"There were so many problems, and we couldn't get it straightened out," Lawson said.

"Sexting" generally refers to the sending of sexual content by text message. As currently written, the Senate bill would have made it a delinquent act for minors to send photos or videos of themselves engaged in sexual conduct to other minors.

Steve Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney's Council, said the bill could provide legal cover to sexual predators.

He also pointed out that 16-year-olds can consent to having sex in Indiana. Meanwhile, the Senate bill would have required juvenile courts to get involved if anyone younger than 18 was caught sexting.

"Why should you even have to go to juvenile court if you can have sex?" Johnson said. "What's wrong with sending a nude picture? So, I mean, there are serious policy issues."

Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, raised the same issue before the bill passed the Senate. Supporters of the bill argued a photograph creates a permanent record and is therefore more problematic.

Wallace. The ILB has had a number of entries about last year's Supreme Court decision in Wallace v. State, including this one from Feb. 10th headed "Supreme Court's ruling in Wallace v. State has thrown the state and local sex offender registries into disarray" - What might be done?" Seidel reports in today's story:
Next week's amendment, meanwhile, is expected to create a procedure for people on the state's sex offender registry to be removed if the law doesn't require them to be listed.

Johnson said there has been confusion about who belongs on the registry ever since the Indiana Supreme Court ruled last year that a convicted child molester needed to be removed from it because he committed his crime before the registry existed.

"We really needed a process to address these issues," Johnson said.

Lawson said the amendments are being made with the agreement of Sen. Jim Merritt Jr., R-Indianapolis, the bill's author.

I can say with confidence that many readers of the ILB would be interested in reviewing this proposed language on "a Wallace procedure" as soon as possible.

[Updated at 11:30 AM] The ILB has learned an amendment was offered "but the committee realized it didn't say what was intended and didn't take a vote. They said they will vote Monday on the new language."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 17, 2010 10:25 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Law