Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Indiana considering a registry of all felons

Indiana is looking at a bill that will put all felons on a registry. This is obviously a bad idea. A terrible idea.

From an article by Dan Carden at
Every person convicted of a felony in Indiana since at least 2012, and going forward, soon may find their name publicly listed on a state website and forever associated with their crime on internet search engines. 
Indiana already has a statewide case management system, Odyssey, where records are available for free. The sponsoring senator, Randy Head, is trying to sell the idea that this is simply a more complete listing than currently found on the Odyssey system. What he doesn't mention is that Odyssey cannot be searched through Internet search engines like Google.

The registry that his bill would create would be Internet searchable, like the sex offender registry.
The Republican-controlled Indiana Senate last week voted 40-9 to establish a statewide felony registry featuring the name, photograph, age, last known address, description of the crime and any other identifying information, other than Social Security number, that the Office of Judicial Administration wishes to post. 
Don't make the mistake of thinking that Randy Head is the only senator in Indiana willing to inflict this on his constituents. The vote in the Senate was 40-9 in favor.
Hoosiers with prior felony convictions would not be required to register with the state. Rather, under Senate Bill 36, the state court system simply would publish a searchable list of felons on its website that must be updated at least every 30 days.
People with felony convictions wouldn't even have to be told they were on the list, that their faces were out there for anyone in the world to find, that their crimes would be forever public.
However, [Senator Head] said since not all courts are yet on Odyssey, a felony registry is needed to fill in the gaps and help Hoosiers know who in their family, workplace, school, church or community has been convicted of a felony. [My emphasis.]

His felony registry would be helpful. 

As if Hoosiers today struggle with not knowing.

But look:
The legislation sunsets the felony registry on June 30, 2023, when all courts are expected to be using Odyssey.
Readers who are listed on the sex offender registry are having a wry laugh at that plan. They know how easily legislative intentions can change, how easily ten years on the registry can become a lifetime. They know how easily a legislature can create new restrictions, how last year it was okay to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters but this year doing so is a new felony.

They know how easily a registry can encourage fear, and result in job and housing discrimination, vandalism, vigilantism, even murder.

They know how easily public shaming can result in suicide.

It is both fascinating and nauseating to see next to the article a link to a story with the headline, Indiana lawmakers to consider plan for reducing youth suicide. If Indiana legislators were at all concerned about suicide, this bill would have died a quick and easy death.
The nonpartisan Legislative Service Agency has not estimated how many Hoosiers might be listed on the felony registry if it becomes law.
 Good question. How many families will be put at risk?
Prior to 2014, Indiana charged numerous crimes as felonies that currently are treated as misdemeanors. For example, theft of any amount, even a pack of gum, previously was a felony, while today felony theft requires at least $750 in stolen property.
Laws change. It is good that Hoosiers are no longer charged with felonies for small thefts.

Laws change. Today, only those convicted of sex offenses are listed on the Internet. Tomorrow, all Indiana felons.

What happens when people realize their neighbors have felony records? What emotional demands will be made of legislators? Residence restrictions for those with convictions for violent crimes?

How long until people on the felon registry will be required to report their travel plans? How long until drivers licenses and passports carry a felon identifier?

This is why registries must be abolished. Once legislators find something that is easy and satisfies their need to look as if they are doing something for public safety or for the children, they will do it.

The existence of the registry is what makes residence restrictions and presence restrictions possible.

It is horrifying that legislators have discovered how easily records can be vomited onto the Internet and yet not considered the damage they will do to their constituents.

Abolish all registries.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I say do it so people can see the ridiculousness of a registry no matter felons or :sexoffenders" registration that are public for everyone to see is causing more harm then any good it's not stopping anything. I mean is it not better to work on stopping a sex offense before hand? being put on a sex offender registry AFTER the fact does nothing to stopping sex offenses before convictions.