Debbie Scott of the IHLA said the organization has some employment guidelines concerning people with criminal history, but no rules about renting rooms. However, the hotel and motel industry has become aware of human trafficking issues, Scott said, and has trained its staff on recognizing that pattern.
Legal buffer zone
When the Indiana Department of Correction releases an inmate from custody, the person must have a place to reside as a condition of release. It can be difficult for sex offenders to find housing because of the state restrictions that sexually violent predators and offenders against children must follow.
According to Parole Stipulations for Sex Offenders, the offender “must not reside, visit or be within 1,000 feet of public parks with playgrounds, pools, rides, and or nature trails; schools, daycare centers, public swimming pools, public beaches, theaters or similar locations where children are reasonably expected to gather or congregate, without the express prior written approval of a parole agent.”
In Terre Haute, that leaves few options for temporary housing.
Deputy Bernard Burns of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department maintains the county’s sex offender website, a statewide database that lists the address and photos of people convicted of sex crimes who are currently required to be on the registry. He told the Tribune-Star that the Econo Lodge is the only motel in the city that fits into the 1,000-foot requirement that must be followed by “sexually violent predators” and “offenders against children.”
Burns noted that the state law does not have the same residency restriction for people classified simply as “sex offenders,” so people with that designation can live at any motel or other housing site, but they are also monitored by officials according to the terms of their release.
Offenders who have temporary residency, such as at a motel, must check in with Burns every seven days to keep their registry status current. Offenders with permanent residences must check in every 90 days, and others must check in annually or re-register if they change residences.