Full 7th Circuit Court Hears Challenge to Indiana Registry Law

By David Wells . . .

CHICAGO (CN) — Indiana argued before the full Seventh Circuit on Thursday that state law does not place unfair registration requirements on sex offenders moving to the Hoosier State.

At issue is a provision of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry Act requiring people convicted of sex offenses who relocate to Indiana to register as sex offenders, even if the crime was committed before the law was passed. The plaintiffs are challenging its retroactive application.

The requirement creates a situation where an Indiana resident who was not required register as a sex offender would have to register if they moved out of state and then chose to move back because they had a past conviction.

In January, a split three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling that upheld a lower court ruling and found that the registry requirement is unconstitutional because it creates two classes of citizens upon which it imposes a different set of rules.

However, the state disagreed with the split panel’s decision and asked for the case to be heard in front of the en banc Seventh Circuit.

During Thursday’s virtual hearing, Indiana Deputy Solicitor General Kian Hudson told the judges that the provision can be applied retroactively to certain individuals because the “marginal effects” are not punitive.

Attorney Gavin Rose of the Indiana ACLU argued on behalf of lead plaintiff Brian Hope and five other individuals who claim they were adversely affected by Indiana’s registration requirements.

“Everyone agrees that if Brian Hope had remained in Indiana after his Indiana conviction, he would be relieved of registration requirements entirely,” Rose said. “Everyone agrees that if any of the other plaintiffs had moved to Indiana sooner or if they had moved from different states, they would be relieved of their registration requirements entirely.”

Rose went on to argue that the state is using its law to potentially force people to register as a sex offender for a lifetime, even if that was not part of their original sentence.

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