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Federal appeals court finds Indiana sex offender registry violated due process

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion text] Tuesday that by not allowing Indiana citizens to appeal erroneous entries on the state Sex and Violent Offender Registry [official website] the Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) [official website] violated Due Process [LII Cornell backgrounder] rights. An Indiana citizen who committed lesser sex offenses found he was listed as a violent sexual predator, which entailed a significantly more burdensome level of restrictions. Despite this inaccuracy, he was unable to appeal the listing, as the DOC only had procedures for incarcerated sex offenders to attempt to correct errors. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that this was insufficient. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU-IN) [advocacy website], which brought the suit, lauded the decision [press release].

The varying restrictions imposed by sex offender registries [JURIST news archive] have been under scrutiny as of late. The US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in February that sex offenders who committed their offenses prior to the passage of the federal sex offender registry do not have to list themselves unless the Attorney General commands them to. A law that banned registered sex offenders from public libraries [JURIST report] was also struck down in federal appeals court that month. One commentator suggested [JURIST comment] that such restrictions "do little to prevent repeat offenses."

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