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IN City Sex Offender Ordinance to Change

September 29, 2009

news-tribune.net : Jeffersonville’s sex offender law could get update.

The future of Jeffersonville’s sex-offender ordinance is unclear, as the Indiana Supreme Court has decided not to take a case in which the Indiana Court of Appeals sided against the city.

The ordinance banning sex offenders from entering city parks was originally passed in January 2007. It allowed for offenders to request an exemption if they could show “good cause” for entering a park. Eric Dowdell, who was convicted of sexual battery of a 13-year-old girl in 1996, applied for such an exemption so that he could watch his son play Little League baseball.

Initially he was denied but, following a legal challenge, the Court of Appeals ruled in June that Jeffersonville’s ordinance was unconstitutional as it applies to Dowdell because he served his sentence and completed his requirement to register on the sex offender list before the ordinance was passed.

In the Court of Appeals ruling, Chief Justice John Baker described the exemption process as “extraordinarily burdensome and virtually illusory,” noting that the offender must provide a “legitimate reason” for the exemption and would have to go through the application process each time a new activity arises.

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