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[ATG] Zoeller’s office assists sheriffs, legislators with offender registry issues
Start Date: 8/22/2012Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 8/22/2012
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS – As the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee conducts hearings starting Thursday on the state sex offender registry, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has been working closely with the Department of Correction and Indiana Sheriff’s Association on approaches to managing the offender registry data so that families have updated and timely information to protect their children from predators.

 

Attorney General Greg Zoeller noted that his office as state’s lawyer has long provided legal advice to the DOC, which tracks data about offender release dates, and the ISA, whose 92 member sheriffs are also in charge of maintaining local offender registries and monitoring offenders. Since the registry was created in the mid-1990s, the Legislature has broadened the list of convictions for which offenders must register upon completing their sentences. And Indiana Supreme Court decisions have imposed new requirements on which offenders must register on an ongoing basis and for how long.

 

“My office helped develop the registry’s original online mapping function that allowed the public to search offenders’ addresses, before that function was transferred over to the Indiana Sheriff’s Association. We are committed to working with the county sheriffs, the DOC and legislators in devising new methods of managing the offender data efficiently and presenting it in an accurate and meaningful way so that parents will have a realistic picture of where offenders now reside,” Zoeller said.

 

The 2009 decision of the Indiana Supreme Court in the Wallace v. State case found that certain registry and residency restrictions were unconstitutional and certain classes of offenders no longer were eligible for the totality of ongoing registration and residence rules. But the decision created uncertainty for county sheriffs because it did not provide a roadmap for whether and how the registry could be revised to take into account out-of-date information. The Attorney General’s Office stepped in and worked with DOC and legislators in crafting a new law, Senate Enrolled Act 224-2010, that helped clear up some of the uncertainty. The law requires that the offender now has the burden of proof to show that he is no longer required to register, and ensures the State has the opportunity to be heard before a court changes the offender’s registration status.

 

The Attorney General’s Office also has provided Deputy AGs to lead training sessions for county sheriffs through ISA on the proper legal requirements for registering offenders. The Attorney General’s Office has also taken the position that the State is not barred from maintaining a registry that contains public information.

 

Also, Zoeller’s office is working with the DOC and legislators on resolving differences between the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry statute the Legislature passed and a similar federal statute, the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act (SORNA), that Congress passed. The federal government ties compliance with the federal law to certain federal funding, and Zoeller’s office has researched possible statutory changes the Legislature could consider.

 


At Thursday’s hearing of a legislative study committee looking into various registry issues, the Indiana Sheriff’s Association plans to discuss its work with the Attorney General’s Office in possibly situating the administration of the registry within a single state agency, rather than the current decentralized approach where by law the DOC and 92 county sheriffs maintain the registry.  Zoeller’s office will be part of the ongoing dialogue to consider such a consolidated approach and present a bipartisan plan to the next Legislature for improving and updating the registry.

 

“Advising our law clients is intrinsic to the job and something we already do every day. The legal and managerial issues of maintaining the registry are enormously complicated. But with the expertise that the Attorney General’s Office has brought to this issue for more than a decade, we stand ready to assist our clients the legislators, the DOC and the sheriffs in building out the appropriate approach that will provide information to protect families. The offender registry is a nonpartisan project that transcends factional disputes and politics,” Zoeller said.

 

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Entry Category:
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  • IN.gov Category:
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  • Public Safety
  • Agency Name
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