COA upholds kidnapper’s sex offender status

A prisoner at the Indiana Department of Correction failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his sex offender classification should be dropped as the COA found it did not violate the ex post facto clause of the Indiana Constitution.

William Dixon was convicted of two counts of kidnapping as Class A felonies, one count of robbery as a Class B felony and one count of resisting law enforcement as a Class D felony after he robbed a grocery store in one county and then kidnapped a mother and son in an adjacent county and used their car to break a police blockade. He hid in the trunk of the car armed with a gun while the mother drove through the blockade. Once they got through the roadblock, Dixon let them out and took the car. Because the kidnapping charge was with a minor, he was eligible for inclusion on the Indiana Sex Offender Registry and was classified as a sex offender in the Department of Correction’s registry. He was sentenced to 76 ½ years in the DOC.

Dixon appealed his classification as a sex offender in 2008, which was denied. He then requested a “packet review” by DOC of his offender information, but that was also denied. Then he filed a verified complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief pro se against the DOC, saying the classification as a sex offender violated ex post facto clauses in the state and federal constitutions. He also challenged his future participation in a program for sex offenders when they are three years away from their release date, even though Dixon’s release date was at least 2041. The DOC filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted after a hearing on both of Dixon’s claims. Dixon appealed.

In the opinion written by Judge Elaine Brown, the COA ruled that Dixon’s classification as a sex offender does not violate ex post facto clauses because no law is being applied retroactively to classify him as a sex offender.

“We conclude that Dixon is not being punished for conduct that was not punishable at the time it was committed nor is he being subjected to additional punishment to that prescribed at the time of the offense,” Brown wrote. “His classification as a sex offender due to his conviction of kidnapping a minor does not violate the ex post facto clause of the Indiana Constitution.”

Brown also wrote that Dixon’s challenge to his participation in the sex offender program is not ripe for review because Dixon’s participation in the program is still years away.

Dixon also claimed he currently suffers loss of privileges and programs available to others because of his classification as a sex offender, but since the DOC has not classified him incorrectly, the COA denied his claims.

The case is William R. Dixon v. Indiana Department of Correction, 49A04-1505-PL-484.

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