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Friday, February 26, 2010

Ind. Law - Bill with "Wallace language" passes 2nd House

Updating this long ILB entry from Feb. 23rd, which suggested that the new language proposed by the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council and added to SB 224 to address the "Wallace issue" could simply make a bad situation worse (take a look at the Feb. 23rd entry for details), the House passed the bill on Third Reading yesterday 97-0 and it was returned to the Senate with amendments. According to a story by the Indiana Lawyer, the Attorney General worked on the changes, which would put into law:

the procedure and stance taken by the DOC. The language would revise the statute regarding offenders seeking relief from registry requirements by requiring that person to file a petition in court and request a court order for removal. The prosecutor would receive notice and have a chance [ILB - at least 60 days] to respond, and the offender would have to provide information to prove he's no longer eligible for listing on the registry. If the judge orders removal, the DOC would be required to grant it.
In other words, if the Supreme Court's ruling in Wallace means that an individual was required to register as a sex offender under a law that, under the constitution, should not have been applied to him, the individual will have to go through a court proceeding to prove it.

And, as the Feb. 23rd ILB entry ended:

Furthermore, the new language would not take effect until July 1, 2010. What happens until then? And what of individuals whose names already have been removed pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Wallace, either by court order, or by sheriffs' actions? What of pending actions?
Adding to the confusion, or at least the ILB's confusion, is this story by Jeff Neumeyer, posted Feb. 25th on the Fort Wayne Indiana News Center's website, that makes no mention of the pending legislation:
Indiana's attorney general says a uniform computer system would aid Hoosier officials in the big task of removing hundreds of names from the state's sex offender registry list.

The job has to be done, because of an Indiana Supreme Court ruling in 2009.

Indiana's high court last year agreed with attorneys for Richard Wallace, who argued the one-time child molester should not have to register as a sex offender in Indiana, because the list wasn't even in existence in the 19-80's when he committed his crimes.

The ruling said that the current provision violates the prohibition on “ex post facto” laws in the Indiana Constitution.

The decision impacts somewhere around two-thousand offenders statewide.

Almost 300 in Allen County alone have already been stripped off the registry because of the 2009 decision.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller told Indiana’s NewsCenter, he will help set up an administrative procedure to remove names that no longer belong.

We asked officer Jeff Shimkus, the sex offender registry coordinator for Allen County, if public protection from sexual predators will suffer under this change.

Cpl. Jeff Shimkus/Allen County Police Dept.: "I still say use the registry, find out who's living in your neighborhood, don't trick or treat at their houses, obviously, don't have your kids spend the night at their houses, but the main thing is don't think that you're safe because the person is not on the registry. You still have to do the research, figure out who this person is."

Shimkus says there may be dozens of people in Allen County who pose a safety threat to children or others, who’ve never committed a crime, and thus wouldn’t be on the list anyway.

Attorney General Zoeller says it may take close to a year to get the statewide registry updated to reflect the recent court ruling.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 26, 2010 01:35 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Law