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Sen. Zakas: Bill to Close Sex Offender Registry Loophole Passes House of Representatives

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 27, 2018)Senate Enrolled Act 60, authored by State Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger), passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 95 – 0. SB 60 previously passed the Senate with a unanimous vote.

Under current law, it is a Level 6 felony for a sex offender to fail to register as required, and a Level 5 felony for a second conviction for failure to register. SEA 60 would enhance the penalty if a sex offender who moved to Indiana from another state had been convicted of a similar offense in that other state.

“This bill closes a loophole we currently have in state law,” Zakas said. “It will recognize the out-of-state conviction of a sex offender for failing to register there. We do not want to give sex offenders an advantage in Indiana by allowing them to be charged with a lower level felony if they continue to fail to register as required.”

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) supports the bill. David Powell, executive director of IPAC testified in the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code in support of SEA 60. Chris Naylor, assistant executive director of IPAC, testified in support at the bill’s hearing in the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. “We view this as an opportunity to have some consistency with out-of-state sex offenders who have been convicted for failure to register and those in Indiana who have done the same,” Naylor said.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government maintain sex offender registries. These registries, which contain details about persons convicted of certain sexual crimes, are established and maintained to aid law enforcement. They also serve an important public notification purpose since many are searchable. Sex offender registries have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This legislation closes a loophole and seeks to protect Hoosiers by holding out-of-state offenders to the same standards we have in Indiana,” Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville), who sponsored SEA 60 in the House, said. “These offenders know what is now required of them, and if they fail to follow the law, they will be held accountable.”

SEA 60 now moves to Gov. Eric Holcomb for further consideration.