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State Sex Offender Registry Differs From Federal Guidelines

Three recent cases in Indiana reveal a nuance of the state’s sex offender registry that is different when compared to federal guidelines.

Indiana’s constitution does not require sex offenders who were convicted prior to the creation of the registry in 1994 to register now, because those cases are considered “ex post facto,” or after the fact. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s guidelines do not consider sex offender convictions ex post facto and say that any offender should be currently registered. It is a policy many other abide by, making Indiana’s guidelines rare.

Attorney Kristin Mulholland defended one case where the offender committed an act in Illinois before the registries were in place, but now lives in Indiana where he has not been required to register.

“Now Illinois passed a law making it so that he would have to register, and under Illinois law, they decided that it’s not ex post facto as to sex offenders having to register," Mulholland says. "So there’s the difference between the ways Illinois looks at its constitution and the way Indiana looks at its constitution. Indiana provides broader protection its citizens under its constitution.”

While the sex offender registry policy will not be changed in regards to ex post facto cases, Avon State Representative Greg Steuerwald is currently working on legislation requiring offenders to register in each new county they travel to within 72 hours of their arrival.

"These changes are very necessary," he says. "They’re going to make the registry much more effective. It’s going to enable law enforcement to keep track of offenders better and it’s going to better advise the public in general."

Steuerwald says a recent study revealed loopholes in the registry that the new law would fix. He plans to introduce his bill when the legislation session convenes next month.

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