Alex Blaze

Court rejects sex offender registry provisions

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 25, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: constitutional rights, fear mongering, FISA, human rights abuses, Indiana, privacy, sex offender registry

Apparently even sex offenders have Constitutional rights:

U.S. District Court Judge David Hamilton in Indianapolis ruled Tuesday in favor of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit that was brought April 3 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

The ACLU had challenged as unconstitutional a law the Legislature passed this year, Senate Enrolled Act 258. It was supposed to take effect July 1 and would have required convicted sex offenders, who already have to sign the state's sex-offender registry, to also provide authorities with their email addresses and Internet usernames.

Offenders also would have had to sign a consent form allowing police to search their computers or other Web-ready devices at any time, and to install software that monitored such activity, the law said.

The ruling describes the burden of the law, set to go into effect on July 1. The state of Indiana would have had access to the offenders' computers, their business dealings (one plaintiff gets sent confidential information from his clients, and he'd have to break nondisclosure agreements), their communications with their attorneys, their homes, and the computers their employers gave them and the computers of their families, as well as unfettered access to the offenders' homes to make sure that the software is still on there.

The court ruled that it was too much of an infringement on Fourth Amendment rights.

I know the belief that all sex offenders should just be put to death because it'd just be so much easier, because "once a sex offender, always a sex offender," and because we love to demonize anything we see as possibly being a part of us has quite a bit of weight right now in the US (more than anywhere else in the Western world), but as Gina posted this morning, even sex offenders deserve compassion.

To the people who unquestioningly support such measures I ask: "To what end?"

It is interesting, though, that the same sort of fear-mongering around terrorism was just used last week to pass a bill through the House to give the president the power to wiretap any international calls he feels like, as long as he believes that it would be in the interest of national security. Screw having to prove it to anyone later, just trust him! You know you can....

But isn't that the half the point of fear-mongering, to convince us to give up our rights? The other half would probably be to distract us from policy that could actually improve our lives, and, on that count, mission accomplished with both laws.

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The Indiana law overstepped its bounds. Clearly. No one should have that much control over someone else unless they are in prison or a secured facility.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 26, 2008 6:13 AM

What do you know, the Bill of Rights wins one for a change. Great news, but the battle for privacy is hardly over.