On Monday, Senate Enrolled Act 12 passed out of the Indiana Senate for the final time and heads to the governor for consideration. Language authored by State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond), originally found in Senate Bill (SB) 295, was included in the final version of the enrolled act. Mrvan’s language addresses a loophole in current Indiana code concerning sex offenders and their ability to attend religious services held at school locations when children are present.
Last year, The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that individuals on the sex offender registry can exercise their First Amendment Right to practice religion, even if the service takes place at a location that is also used as a school, where sex offenders cannot visit. The language offered by Senator Mrvan would allow a sex offender to visit a school property only if a religious institution is located on the school property, and the offender visits the grounds with the sole purpose of attending a religious service. The amended language also stipulates that there are no classes or extracurricular activities being held at the time.
“I find sex offenses towards children to be the worst kind of crimes. Senate Bill 295 was meant to prevent the offenders from attending a school other than for religious services,” Sen. Mrvan said. “I’m happy that the language was amended into Senate Enrolled Act 12, and I’m glad to see this bill make its way to the governor’s desk. I hope he signs the bill as early as possible”
SEA 12 passed through the House of Representatives unanimously, and then back through the Senate by a vote of 26-20. SEA 12 now moves to the governor for his signature.