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Ind. Senate Bill would increase penalties for child molesters

Thursday, December 22, 2005

- SB 6 would require convicted molesters to be put on lifetime parole and be required to wear a GPS monitoring device.

A problem for Clay County and probably every other county in the state is being addressed in a bill before the Indiana Senate early next year.

So far, in 2005, there have been at least five arrests on child molestation charges, as reported in The Brazil Times. SB 6 is scheduled to receive its first reading in January.

At least one Indiana city is getting serious about child molesters, but its law is being challenged in court.

Plainfield passed an ordinance in 2002 prohibiting anyone listed on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry from entering parks and recreation areas operated by the town.

But that ordinance is being challenged in court by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

The ICLU filed a lawsuit in Hendricks Superior Court on behalf of a man only identified as John Doe. The lawsuit says a portion of the town ordinance banning anyone listed on the state sex offense registry from Plainfield parks is unconstitutional.

"He should have the same rights as all citizens, absent of a showing that he is a risk," ICLU Legal Director Kenneth Falk said Dec. 13.

The man was convicted in 2001 of child exploitation and possession of child pornography. He served time in jail and was placed on probation until August 2004.

"Our ordinance doesn't taint anyone," said town Council President Robin Brandgard. "They are already tainted because they are on the sex registry."

It is not known how many towns and cities have passed similar ordinances, but Plainfield is not alone. The Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department has a ban against a specific person who was convicted of child molesting. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld that ban in 2004.

Next month, on Jan. 9, the Indiana Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters will consider a bill by State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford. S.B. 6 would place convicted child molesters on lifetime parole.

The bill says a molester "must be placed on lifetime parole when the person's term of imprisonment is completed" and the molester "must be required to wear a GPS (global positioning satellite) monitoring device."

If the convicted molester violates a lifetime parole and is convicted of a crime, the punishment would be increased because of his (or her) sex offender status.

The bill may never leave committee, could be amended or could fail in either the Indiana Senate or the Indiana House of Representatives. The cost of enforcing it will undoubtedly be a factor when it is considered.

According to the Fiscal Impact Statement prepared for the bill, the cost of monitoring the offender on probation is expected to cost as much as $10 per day, based on current costs for 24-hour surveillance.

If the convicted child molester is found guilty of violating probation, under the bill he may receive a stiffer sentence because of his status as a sex offender. The average cost of housing an adult prisoner is $5 per day, according to the bill's Fiscal Impact Statement.

"There are no financial data available to indicate the average cost of parole supervision," wrote Fiscal Analyst Karen Firestone in the statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

On the Web:

Senate Bill 0006

http://www.IN.gov/apps/lsa/session/billw...



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