Federal Judge: Rehab Class For Ind. Sex Offenders Unconstitutional
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana sex offenders cannot be required to attend rehabilitation classes, a federal judge has determined.
The ruling finding the program unconstitutional was handed down by U.S. District Judge for Southern Indiana Richard Young on September 28.
Young found that the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring Program requires prisoners who have pleaded not guilty to a sex crime to go through the program, which compels them to confess their sex crime. That is in violation of the Fifth Amendment protecting citizens’ right to be free from compelled self-incrimination, he said.
“It is undeniable that prison authorities may, in the interest of rehabilitation, impose penalties for failing to participate in sex offender treatment programs. But the SOMM program at issue in this case provides significant penalties, in the form of lost earned food time credits and demotion in credit class, or choosing to remain silent,” Young stated in his opinion.
The rehabilitation class program’s constitutionality was challenged in a 2013 class-action lawsuit by Indiana prison inmate Donald Lacy.
Young ordered that penalties under the program be adjusted and that inmates affected be granted credit time. The Indianapolis Star reports that three of the plaintiffs will be eligible for release from prison because of the ruling.
Arguing that the public will be put at risk with the offenders free, the Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed an emergency request to halt the judge’s ruling pending an appeal.
The Indiana Supreme Court had previously ruled on the constitutionality of the program, finding in 2014 that it was legal.