Indiana sex-offender registry laws fall short of stricter national standards By MAUREEN HAYDEN Aug 20, 4 min to read Indiana, along with 34 other states, is out of compliance with a federal law that requires states to adopt strict standards for registering sex offenders and monitoring their whereabouts.
The federal law was passed in , in response to a series of heinous crimes committed by fugitive sex offenders, including Joseph Edward Duncan III, a serial child molester on the federal death row in Terre Haute for the kidnap, torture and killing of a 9-year-old boy. The law was supposed to launch an aggressive state effort to keep better track of offenders like Duncan, who was a registered sex offender in one state, while out on bond on a child molesting charge in another state, when he was committing sex crimes and murder in a third state.
But that effort has been slowed down by questions about the costs of its implementation, concerns that the federal law trumps state policies and practices already in place, and fears that states will face an avalanche of lawsuits if they follow the federal rules. Late last year, Indiana — along with many states — was penalized by the U. SORNA is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which made it a federal crime for a registered sex offender to move to another state without re-registering with that new home state.
The law also set out uniform standards for state sex offender registries — who goes on them, how long they stay on, and when, if ever, they come off. Those are changes, he said, that only legislators can make because they require rewriting state law. SORNA increases the amount of personal information that the sheriffs have to collect and verify.
Under SORNA, sex offenders deemed especially dangerous would be required to renew that registration information, in person, four times a year for the rest of their lives. Brent Myers, director of registration and victim services for the Indiana Department of Corrections, said Indiana is already doing much of what SORNA requires in tracking sex offenders, including those who move here from out of state.
They center on the requirement that adults whose crimes were committed before the state law was passed were later required to register as sex offenders. That set off a wave of challenges to the law from those offenders, who argued it was unconstitutional for the state to apply the law retroactively. That ruling applied to hundreds of other offenders whose names were added to the registry retroactively.
But the ruling has also been interpreted differently across the state. Some county sheriffs cleared their registries of offenders who fell under the Wallace ruling. Others decided those offenders would need to get a court order to be removed.
The state Department of Corrections thinks they need to stay on as well. But even those so-called Wallace offenders that remain on the registry are no longer required to report where they live. Their old addresses remain on the registry. Both Myers and Luce agree that the state legislature will need to get more involved in decisions about how sex offenders in Indiana are tracked and monitored. She can be reached at maureen.