Thursday, January 24, 2013
Ind. Decisions - Still more on: 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, declaring unconstitutional Ind. law prohibiting registered sex offenders from using social networking websites
The ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned a decision by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in Indianapolis. In June, Pratt upheld the law enacted by the legislature in 2008.[More] Sentencing Law Policy Blog had this post yesterday on the 7th Circuit decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the class-action suit challenging the law on behalf of sex offenders, including a man identified only as John Doe who served three years for child exploitation. The offenders were all restricted by the ban even though they had served their sentences and were no longer on probation.
“We reverse the district court and hold that the law as drafted is unconstitutional,” judges Joel M. Flaum, John D. Tinder and John J. Tharp Jr. wrote in the ruling. * * *
It was unclear Wednesday how many people may have been charged under the law over the past four years and what their immediate recourse might be.
Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, said one thing is clear: convictions will not automatically be vacated.
“There is no self-correction,” he said, “in our criminal justice system.”
Instead, those charged under the law will have to ask a court to vacate their conviction.
“It takes the person with a wrong conviction to initiate an action,” Landis explained.
Landis said he spoke out against the law when it was being discussed in the legislature “for the obvious reasons that it was overly broad and might interfere with employment opportunities.” But he said it was a hard sell because lawmakers have little sympathy for sex offenders — even when they have paid for their crimes.
“Often, with these kind of bills, your only success in killing them is to convince the committee chairman to not give it a hearing because you know everyone will vote for it when it comes up on the floor,” he said.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 24, 2013 09:59 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions