Criminal Justice

Indiana's Sex Offender Registry Violates Registrants' Due Process Rights, Appeals Court Says

Indiana’s sex and violent offender registry violates some registrants’ due process rights because it doesn’t give them a chance to fix any mistakes in the information, a federal appeals court has held.

In a ruling (PDF) Tuesday, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals encouraged the parties to work together to come up with a procedure for correcting registry errors, Thomson Reuters reports.

The decision reversed a 2011 ruling by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of Indianapolis, who held that a new state Department of Correction procedure giving notice to current prisoners about their pending registry listings and an opportunity to challenge the information was sufficient to comply with due process concerns.

But the appeals court, in a unanimous three-judge ruling, said the new procedure fails to give one class of registrants—those who are not presently incarcerated—any process at all for correcting mistakes in their listings.

Providing additional procedures to correct registry errors may prove as beneficial to the state as it is to registrants, Circuit Judge Diane Wood wrote for the panel.

“Erroneously labeling an offender a sexual violent predator imposes unnecessary monitoring costs on state law enforcement and reduces the efficacy of the registry in providing accurate information to the public,” she wrote.

The office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, which represented the Department of Correction, is reviewing the decision, a spokesman said.

State legislators this month began hearings on possible changes to the registry, after the Indiana Supreme Court in 2009 found some restrictions unconstitutional, he said.

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