January 30, 2018

Senate Panel OKs Bill To Allow Sex Offenders To Attend Church

Article origination IPBS-RJC
An Indiana Court of Appeals ruling says serious sex offenders are entitled to attend worship services - even if the church is on school property. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

An Indiana Court of Appeals ruling says serious sex offenders are entitled to attend worship services - even if the church is on school property.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

So-called “serious” sex offenders would be allowed to attend church services on school property under legislation approved by a Senate panel Tuesday.

Serious sex offenders – those who committed crimes involving children – are currently barred from schools. But an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling says they’re entitled to attend worship services – even if the church is on school grounds.

The legislation would allow the offenders to enter school property, but only for worship services – and specifies they must leave when services conclude.

Still, Indiana Department of Education Legislative Director Mike Brown says the bill is too broadly written.

“We understand that convicted sex offenders should have opportunities to worship, practice religion,” Brown says. “But we do believe that this bill compromises the safety and security of Hoosier children.”

Brown wants the bill to restrict sex offenders from entering school property within 30 minutes of any school, extracurricular, or child care activity. Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says that’s too restrictive.

“What if they have something going on at the church service? They have a constitutional right to be there,” Young says.

The Senate committee approved the bill 7-2, without the Department of Education’s proposed change.

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