Lawsuit says Indiana sex offender law is harsher on new residents

A lawsuit filed against the Indiana Department of Corrections claims the state’s sex offender laws are harsher for people who move into the state than for Indiana residents. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three men, claiming the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The suit cites Wallace v. State, in which the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Richard P. Wallace, also a convicted sex offender whose conviction occurred prior to the act’s enforcement, was not subject to certain statutes of the Sex Offender Registration Act. 

In that case, the court ruled that imposing the statutes of the act against Wallace violated the Indiana Constitution by “(imposing) burdens that have the effect of adding punishment beyond that which could have been imposed when his crime was committed.”

Interestingly, a federal judge had already issued a preliminary injunction against the law, in a similar case earlier this year. That case involved three men who were sentenced before Indiana’s sex offender registry laws were implemented.

“When the plaintiffs arrived in Indiana they were not afforded the same status as persons who had resided in Indiana all along,” Judge Richard L. Young wrote in his injunction. “As a result of the DOC’s policies, long-term Indiana residents who have never traveled out of state are treated differently than new Indiana residents. This differential treatment offends the fundamental right to travel.” 

 The ACLU says Indiana continues to enforce the law despite the injunction.

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