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Carter applauds sex offender registry

Thursday, March 6, 2003

TERRE HAUTE -- Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter advises certain criminals accept a law making their whereabouts public knowledge after they are released from institutions. The highest court in the land is sending that same message. Carter made his remarks Wednesday during a news conference at the Vigo County Annex Building.

The United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in support of sex offender registry laws. The ruling constitutionalizes the posting of several thousands of convicted sexual and violent offenders addresses and names on the Internet.

"This is a significant victory for anyone who believes in protecting the safety and welfare of our children," Carter said, adding he'd like for parents to be able to access the Web site and look specifically for the addresses and names of the convicted offenders in their area, then print the list out and give to their children.

"Hopefully, the decision will lead to a resolution to the case," he said, explaining that the American Civil Liberties Union had questioned whether the law violated the offender's Federal due process rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision reverses a second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which prohibited Connecticut's sex offender law requiring the disclosure of photos, addresses and names of convicted sex offenders. The Court of Appeals enjoined the law because officials didn't allow registrants a hearing to determine whether they are likely to be currently dangerous, explained Carter. But, in the Supreme Court's opinion, due process doesn't require a convicted felon have an opportunity to prove that they aren't currently a threat to society before their identities are disclosed on a directory or registry of convicted offenders.

The case may have a significant impact on a similar case that Indiana's sex offender law is facing in the Indiana Supreme Court. The ruling resolves many issues raised by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union against Indiana's Sex Offender Registry, also known as Zachary's Law.

Carter explained the law is named for a child from Cloverdale, Ind., killed by a convicted offender who had been released from prison.

The Indiana State Supreme Court issued a stay on Jan. 3 halting the state from implementing the revisions to the law that would have required the Criminal Justice Institute and county sheriffs to publish the photographs and home addresses of convicted sex and violent offenders. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the state now has a stronger case.

"This ruling has a crippling effect on the class of criminals who have challenged Zachary's Law," Carter said. "It's in the public's best interest that they honor the court's decision and not pursue the case any further."



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