Sex offender registry may get overhaul
The federal government claims Indiana needs to do a better job of tracking sex offenders. There are 92 sex offender registries in Indiana - maintained by each county sheriff.
All of the websites use the same software, the same forms. In the words of one sheriff, there are "too many cooks in the kitchen" and sex offenders are slipping through the cracks.
Michelle Corrao is a victim of sexual assault. On September 12, 1996 her life changed forever. "The three guys that raped me were habitual," she said. "I mean, I was their fifth and final victim."
Two of her attackers are serving 300 year sentences. The third attacker will most likely walk out of prison some day.
And when he does, she will want to know where he is living and working "because of what happened, I continually have my eyes wide open and am aware of my surroundings, so I want to know who lives in my neighborhood," Carrao said.
Which makes Indiana's Sex Offender Registry such a vital tool for her and her clients as Executive Director of Prevail, an advocacy group for victims of crime and violence.
'There have been some situations where (the registry) hasn't been correct or isn't fulfilled," said Corrao.
There are a number of convicted sex offenders tracked right out of prison. The federal government notified Indiana that ff the state doesn't make changes and find the offenders, they will start losing federal money.
Stephen Luce is the Executive Director of the Indiana Sheriffs Association and said the interpretation of the current statute of who should be on the registry, and for how long, has become very confusing for a lot of people.
The Indiana Sheriffs Association helped develop the offender web site and is working to clear up the laws, because of the number of sex offenders that are unaccounted-for. Luce estimates that number at "15 to 20 percent, because one of the biggest things we have, they have seven days to contact that home county." he said.
Police are then forced to track down the sex offenders that never show up, or take too long to do so.
Another issue, non-violent sex offenders are only required to register once every calendar year, meaning some sex offenders go almost 24 months between updating registrations.
Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt is planning to introduce legislation that would streamline sex and violent offender registration. And there is some discussion of placing the tracking and registration in a state agency to centralize the process.