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Court: Rehabilitation evaluation a must

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The Indiana Supreme Court says that before any juvenile can be placed on the state's sex offender registry, a trial court must first evaluate whether that minor has been rehabilitated to determine if there's clear and convincing evidence he or she might re-offend.

A Marion Superior magistrate didn't do that and on Tuesday, justices reversed the lower court's decision requiring a then-14-year-old boy to register as a sex offender. The eight-page ruling came on a petition to transfer in J.C.C. v. State, No. 49S02-0803-JV-143.

During a year's incarceration at the Indiana Boys' School in 2000 for a series of nine child molesting offenses with younger boys, the juvenile referred to as J.C.C. completed a sex offender treatment program and was released. The state petitioned that the juvenile register as a sex offender and the trial court ordered that registry.

On appeal to the Supreme Court, J.C.C. argued that the state didn't show clear and convincing evidence that he is likely to re-offend, and that the trial court should not have denied his Trial Rule 60(B) claim to set aside the adjudications. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a certified juvenile sex offender counselor adequately conducted an assessment that showed J.C.C. was a high risk for re-offending despite his completion of the treatment program.

But the justices disagreed, pointing out that the counselor's only evaluation of J.C.C. was prior to the juvenile's placement in the Department of Correction and treatment program.

"Though such an interview is not required, the expert's testimony or other evidence must analyze whether the juvenile has been rehabilitated subsequent to disposition," Justice Frank Sullivan wrote for the court. "That did not occur in this case. Without such evidence, we cannot conclude that there was clear and convincing evidence that J.C.C. is likely to commit another sex offense."

The court's analysis is grounded in specific provisions of Indiana's juvenile sex offender registry statute and the general purpose of the juvenile code, Justice Sullivan wrote. An evidentiary hearing is required to determine if a minor is likely to be a repeat sex offender, but when a juvenile is placed within detention or prison, that registry hearing can't be held until after the juvenile is released. As a result, the court determined that the legislative intent is to wait on a sex offender registration determination until that juvenile has the chance to be rehabilitated during detention.

"In addition to the specific provisions of the statute we have been exploring, we also find it highly relevant.... That the Legislature has articulated that guiding policy of this State and the purpose behind Indiana's juvenile justice system is to 'ensure that children within the juvenile justice system are treated as persons in need of care, protection, treatment, and rehabilitation,'" Justice Sullivan wrote. "This policy is consistent with the State's primary interest in rehabilitation, rather than punishment of juvenile delinquents."

Justices vacated the appellate court's order except for the portion addressing the Trial Rule 60(B) claim to set aside adjudications.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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