It's extortion, plain and simple!
By Megan Reust
FORT WAYNE (WANE) - Starting April 1, sex offenders in Allen County will be required to pay a fee to register and change their addresses. Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries and deputies asked the County Commissioners to consider imposing the fee.
A new state law allows each county within the state of Indiana to impose a fee for sex offenders to register and update their addresses. Commissioners approved the county's request Friday morning.
Registering sex offenders takes manpower. Right now, the county has three full-time employees who work on keeping several sex offender registries up to date. Now, Allen County will be able to start charging sex offenders for the service they use.
- For a "service they use?" First, it's not a "service" and they are not "using" it, it's forced upon them, which is not a fee, it's extortion!
"It is an expensive process and we thought it would be best with the budget constraints that we have now if we did try to generate a little bit of money to cover some of our costs," Corporal Jeff Shimkus explained.
- Then force the tax payers to pay for it! They are the ones who wanted the laws!
Sheriff Ken Fries told County Commissioners imposing these fees would help cover some of the funds associated with maintaining various databases.
"I think any little bit of help that will get it off the backs of the taxpayers or the squeeze of tax caps is going to be beneficial," Allen County Commissioner Therese Brown said.
Commissioners approved the county's request. Starting in April, offenders will have to pay an annual registry fee of $50. And $5 every time they change their address.
"At this point last year if we collected everything we would had been looking at about $20,000 to about $21,000. So, it's a drop in the bucket but it is a little bit of cash that could help," Shimkus said.
So, what if sex offenders can't afford to pay the $50 up front?
"We will register offenders whether they can pay the money or not. That's not the issue. We'll still register the offenders and keep them compliant so there won't be any criminal charges filed, but if they don't pay these fees, we'll be looking at some kind of civil issue later on down the road."
Commissioners don't believe imposing these fees violates offender's civil rights.
- Well of course not, but if the shoe was on the other foot, then I'm sure they would.
"As a condition of their sentence to be carried out for whatever length of time and I suspect based on what level of infraction that they had committed that this is a requirement that we don't believe this is going to be an infringement of their civil rights," Brown said.
- It's additional punishment, which is called an ex post facto law and is unconstitutional, or extortion, which is a crime.
If offenders don't pay, they could be taken to small claims court and ordered to pay up.