FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – There are four types of offenders on Indiana’s Sex and Violent Offender Registry.
Of the four categories, three of the classifications contain individuals who have committed sex crimes in one form or another: Sexually violent predators, offenders against children and sex offenders. Each of the aforementioned categories is defined by a certain set of crimes and must adhere to specific guidelines by which they can live their lives.
Sexually violent predators have committed the crimes of rape, child molesting that included intercourse or penetration, vicarious sexual gratification and criminal deviate conduct.
Offenders against children have also committed child molestation but through fondling. They may have also committed other child related sex offenses including exploitation, solicitation, seduction and non-parental kidnapping of a minor.
Sex offenders have committed what are viewed as the lowest types of sex crimes including sexual misconduct with a minor, sexual battery, incest, possession of child pornography, vicarious sexual gratification, sexual conduct in the presence of a minor, non-parental criminal confinement of a minor, promotion of prostitution, promotion of human trafficking, sexual trafficking of a minor and human trafficking.
Sexually violent predators are subject to registering for life as a sex offender as well as checking in every 90 days with law enforcement. Offenders against children and sex offenders register for 10 years and check in with law enforcement annually. Both sexually violent predators and offenders against children are subject to the “1,000 Foot Rule,” prohibiting them from living within 1,000 feet of parks, schools and youth programs.
Visitors to the registry will also find violent offenders. Those offenders have committed no sex crimes but instead have committed murder or voluntary manslaughter.
The registry is set up to provide Indiana residents with the means necessary to monitor the movement of sex offenders around their homes or businesses or any address they see fit. On the registry, individuals can find a plethora of specific information related to a sex offender including the name, age and address as well as conviction information and the date the crime was committed.
In Allen County, two Allen County Police officers are charged with monitoring nearly 500 registered sex offenders. Perhaps the biggest issue Detective Mike Smothermon, a member of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Team, deals with is the 1,000 Foot Rule. The rule was created to protect the public as well as create a set of guidelines by which sex offenders could live, but instead, according to Smothermon, has created more problems than solutions and was created out of political convenience.
Smothermon says that with so little places in the county for sex offenders to go, two things occur regularly: they often live together and they often are forced to lie about their residencies because they are repeatedly denied certain addresses based on location.
"After a certain number of times that we keep telling them, "No. Sorry, you can't live there. Nope, you can't live there. It's too close to park," eventually, they're going to start lying to us."
The restrictions on where a sex offender can live create more work for law enforcement because they have to deal with more criminal cases as a result of lying. Smothermon says the registry is not being utilized as intended.
"We’d much rather have an offender living within a thousand feet of a school that we knew about, the school knew about and all the people that live within that neighborhood knew about. As long as everyone's aware of it, that's what the registry was designed for."
Smothermon says there have been efforts to reverse this law but also says it is doubtful that a state politician will take up that effort as his or her cause.
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