Sentencing Policy and management of sex offenders

November 3rd, 2005

hands on barsThe Sentencing Policy Study Committee convened last Friday to hear testimony on the topic of sex offender management.

Jane Seigel of the Indiana Judicial Center discussed Indiana’s participation in the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. The Compact allows states to keep track of registered sex offenders that move across state lines.

Last month, Massachusetts became the final state to ratify the compact - ensuring comprehensive national cooperation. Before full participation in the compact, it was difficult – if not impossible – to know when sex offenders from outside Indiana decided to take up residence in our communities. Now, officials are given notice of every individual offender moving into their jurisdiction and are able to keep them under a supervision program.

Steve Johnson of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council gave the Committee an update on the current Sex Offender Registry statutes in Indiana, and David Donahue, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction made a presentation on the upcoming launch of a new website for the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry. The new website will provide mapping capabilities, and all data will be fully uploaded to the National Sex Offender Public Registry.

We also heard testimony on the challenges of supervising sex offenders in different types of jurisdictions. Mike Pate from the Greene County Probation Department discussed issues relating to rural communities, and Christine Kerl, of the Marion County Probation Department talked about uniquely urban issues.

Finally, the Committee made two legislative recommendations.

The first recommendation was to authorize courts to charge fees to defray the costs of individuals placed on pretrial supervision programs.

The second recommendation was to establish “re-entry” courts (similar to existing “drug courts”) that would allow judges to supervise the conditions of inmates’ release back into the community. Allen County has operated a similar program for four years, and has reduced recidivism by 50% in the offenders it has supervised.

The Committee will resume meeting after the adjournment of the next session of the Legislature next Spring. Feel free to let me know if you would like to suggest topics for the committee’s consideration.

Entry Filed under: Indiana Courts, Crime & Punish

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