Indiana Bypassing the 4th Amendment?

This kind of irks me. It’s legislation like this that, while I agree morally with it, it’s not right and it will jeopardize the ability for the governments to come together and pass rational legislation that will HELP the people.

Here’s a story from Indiana that highlights a bill in the stat legislature that basically takes 4th Amendment rights away from convicted sex offenders. The 4th is your right to be protected from unwarranted search and seizures. This bill basically goes one step further in requiring convicted sex offenders to register their information both on and off line, but it would now allow police to search the computers of sex offenders long after their sentences end. That doesn’t seem right – not without the proper procedure.

Lawsuit challenges sex offender law regarding computers
A state legislator says he is confident that a state law that would allow police to search the computers of sex offenders long after their sentences end will withstand a legal challenge.

Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, said Wednesday that the bill was another way to protect children from sexual predators, in this case those who seek out victims through the Internet.

“There are millions of children who go on those (Internet) chat rooms,” he said. “It’s a huge problem in protecting our youth and we should take any steps needed.”

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a federal lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Waterman’s bill originally had nothing to do with sex offenders. But late in the session, a conference committee inserted several provisions — including the ones dealing with computers — that Waterman said he supported.

Starting July 1, the law will require sex offenders enrolling in the state’s public registry to submit e-mail addresses and user names for instant messaging, chat rooms and social networking sites.

Offenders who provide that information must sign a consent form allowing searches of their computers or other Internet-enabled devices at any time. They must also install software that monitors their Internet activity at their expense.

Those restrictions already are conditions of probation. The ACLU is challenging their use for sex offenders who still must register but have finished serving parole or probation, claiming it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“These are people who have been restored to all civil rights, and nevertheless the law explicitly requires these free people to give permission to a search of their computers and purchase software and hardware,” Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said Wednesday.

“What this means is that at 2 o’clock in the morning someone can show up and say let me look at the computer,” he said. Falk said the computer might belong to a spouse or someone else living in the residence and include private financial information.

Sex offenders generally must register for 10 years after their release from prison, but some face the restriction for life. Waterman said that the computer provisions would not apply to those who are removed from the sex offender registry.

The state ACLU is seeking class action status and has two plaintiffs. One is a Marion County man using the name “John Doe” who has been convicted of child molesting. The other is a Scott County man who has convictions for child molesting and sexual misconduct with a minor.

Both are required to register for life as sex offenders, the suit says, and have concerns about the privacy of financial and business information on their computers.

It’s not that I think convicted pervs shouldn’t be watched… but to be able to just show up and seize their computer to check it out at any time is a violation o the rights of anyone else using that machine. It’s not cool for someone trying to maybe make amends, get on the right path, and fit back into a normal life to be picked on without any protections afforded them. This is not the middle ages.

Besides, at this point, isn’t it the parents’ job to protect their kids just as much as it is the government’s job to make sure the pervs released back into society behave? If all parents used monitoring software like PC Pandora to be aware of their child’s online actions, there would be no room for kids to get molested by random neighborhood sickos…

I say “random neighborhood sickos” because we all know that most cases of abuse are by family members, relatives or friends of the family.  That is a whole seperate issue all together…


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