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Ind. Court Blocks Sex Offender Law

January 3, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The Indiana Supreme Court temporarily blocked a new state law Friday requiring sheriffs to post photographs and addresses of convicted sex offenders on the Internet.

The state Sheriff’s Association had planned to begin posting the pictures and information by Monday, but the justices put the law on hold until they can decide whether it is constitutional.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union claims the law violates the rights of sex offenders, who already are listed in a registry that does not include photos and addresses. Other critics have said the changes would make it more difficult for offenders to find jobs and would expose them to harassment, violence and identity theft.

Supporters of the expanded registry, including state Attorney General Steve Carter, say it would help protect the public.

Lower courts had thwarted efforts to block the law, but the state’s high court said the ICLU had established a ``reasonable likelihood″ of winning its case.

The justices’ order noted that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering cases that should clarify whether putting sex offenders’ pictures on the Internet violates their rights, and whether convicted offenders should get hearings to prove they are no longer a threat.

ICLU legal director Ken Falk said he was pleased with the stay, and that the law is ``a rather grave violation of due process″ because it does not give convicted offenders a chance to show they have reformed.

Carter said studies have shown that convicted sex offenders have a 15 percent to 80 percent chance of becoming repeat offenders.

``We want to do as much as we can to prevent those crimes from occurring in the first place,″ he said.

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