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Justices: parole conditions unenforceable, SOMM constitutional

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The Indiana Supreme Court Wednesday ordered a trial court to enjoin the Indiana Parole Board from enforcing the conditions of a man’s parole that prevent him from associating with minors. But the justices denied his request to find the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring program is unconstitutional.

In 2005, David Bleeke was convicted of residential entry and attempted criminal deviate conduct related to an adult victim. He was released from incarceration in 2008 and placed on parole until 2015. Several of his parole conditions prohibited him from having contact with any children – including his own. After a legal challenge, Bleeke may now have contact with only his children.

In David Bleeke v. Bruce Lemmon, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction; Thor R. Miller, as Chairman of the Indiana Parole Board; et al., 02S05-1305-PL-364, Bleeke challenged the specific conditions restricting his access to minors as being unconstitutional, and argued that others fail to comply with certain statutory requirements. He also claimed that several of the parole statutes are facially unconstitutional in the manner by which they classify sex offenders. He also argued that the SOMM program is both facially unconstitutional and unconstitutional as applied to him.

The Court of Appeals found that Bleeke shouldn’t be considered as an offender against children based on his attempted criminal deviate conduct conviction because the statute dictating that classification is only applicable to offenses committed after July 1, 2006. It also held the SOMM program violated Bleeke’s Fifth Amendment rights. He challenged having to sign a form that allowed a polygraph examiner to share the results of his test with a probation officer.

The justices agreed that enforcement of conditions 4,5,17,19 and 20 must be enjoined because no evidence was presented that shows Bleeke is, was, or will be a threat to children – his own or otherwise.

Regarding his SOMM challenge, Justice Steven David wrote for the unanimous court, “The question before us thus becomes whether this threat to Bleeke—answer the potentially incriminating questions or face re-incarceration—so compelled (or will compel) his answers that it violates the Fifth Amendment unless he is provided immunity. ... Regardless, we agree with those other state and federal courts applying McKune (v. Lile, 536 U.S. 24(2002)), and holding that this form of disciplinary response does not constitute a ‘penalty’ such that Bleeke would have been compelled to yield his Fifth Amendment privilege.”

“And so while he was incarcerated, the State was permitted to present Bleeke—and all SOMM inmates—with a constitutionally permissible choice: participate in the SOMM program and maintain a more favorable credit status and/or privileges within the prison system or a favorable assignment in a community transition program, or refuse to participate and instead serve out the full term for which he had been lawfully convicted,” David continued.  

The case is remanded for further proceedings.
 

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  • What of wrongfully convicted?
    What becomes of a person who maintains his innocence throughout the trial, who is nevertheless found guilty, who does his time and who SOMM then "requires them to take responsibility for their offenses" by admitting their guilt? How is that any different than someone signing a confession under coercion or duress? Because if the wrongfully convicted party refuses to admit his guilt, he will continue in prison for the full length of his sentence, a longer term than guilty parties who complete their SOMM requirements. How is that justice?

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