Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sex Offender Ban Approved, Constitutional Or Not

The Indianapolis City-County Council approved an ordinance banning certain sex offenders from public parks and facilities where children gather on a 25-2 vote. Violators will face fines ranging from $600 to $2,500 if they enter a prohibited area without being accompanied by an adult.

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy says, "The controversial measure goes into effect immediately and is seen as one of the strictest ordinances of its kind in the nation. Some council members, however, said its toughness could spark a costly legal battle." He adds, "National experts have said Indianapolis may be among the first cities in the country to impose a civil fine for mere presence in the wrong place."

As he voted to approve the ordinance, Republican minority leader Phil Borst said, "I hope we don't flush $500,000 in legal defense for nothing." That's exactly what happened when the council approved an ordinance pushed by Mayor Peterson early in his first term to ban certain video games in an effort to protect children. That ordinance was eventually found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court after the city wasted more than three-quarters of a million dollars defending it. The only two council members who were brave enough to risk a no vote were Greg Bowes and Angela Mansfield, both Democrats.

But the important thing is that both prosecutor candidates, Carl Brizzi and Melina Kennedy, will be able to issue press releases taking credit for their part in the passage of the ordinance. Isn't that what matters most?

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