A federal judge says a sexual offender rehabilitation class for Indiana prisoners violates the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. Southern District of Indiana Judge Richard Young ruled Sep. 28 that the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring Program (SOMM) compels prisoners to confess to past sexual crimes, which violates the Fifth Amendment right to “be free from compelled self-incrimination.”
The program has been in place since 1999 and is intended as a rehabilitation service for inmates convicted of sexual crimes. In 2013, inmate Donald Lacy filed a class-action lawsuit against the state and the Department of Corrections challenging the program’s constitutionality.
According to the complaint, the SOMM program is mandatory even for inmates who pleaded not guilty to a sexual crime. The program requires participants to describe in detail any past sexual misconduct, including events not previously reported to police. Inmates are also required to sign a consent form acknowledging that any information they provide could be given to authorities.
Inmates who refuse to participate in the program are subject to losing the ability to earn credit for time served and losing previously earned credit for time served.
Judge Young’s ruling affirms the penalties for not participating constitute sufficient compulsion to violate the inmates’ Fifth Amendment rights. The ruling orders the penalty structure for the program be adjusted and that all inmates who lost credit for time served be granted that time retroactively.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Attorney General’s office says they are appealing the ruling and will file that appeal by the deadline on Oct. 30.
Read the complete ruling below:
Taylor Haggerty contributed to this report.