February 28, 2008
Sex Offender E-Disclosure Act Passes Senate
MADISON – Today, the Wisconsin State Senate passed Senate Bill 382, known as the Sex Offender E-Disclosure Act. The bill is co-authored by Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Representative Andy Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson). It requires certain sex offenders to provide the state sex offender registry with updated information for all of their personal e-mail accounts and web sites.
“Sex offenders increasingly use the internet to prey on the public, especially young people,” Taylor pointed out. “We would be remiss if we didn’t take steps to safeguard our state’s children against this relatively new threat.”
Current law requires registered sex offenders to provide the Department of Corrections (DOC) with updated personal information, including a copy of their fingerprints, a recent photograph, place of residence, place of employment, and the name and location of any school in which they will be enrolled. The DOC publishes this information in its sex offender registry to alert parents to the presence and identity of sex offenders in their communities. The Sex Offender E-Disclosure Act adds personal e-mail accounts and websites to the list of required information.
“Ultimately, the internet is like any other place of association,” noted Taylor. “Like schools or residential areas, it’s a forum where sex offenders come in contact with other people. It makes sense, then, that we take the same precautions with the internet that we take with our schools and neighborhoods.”
Senate Bill 382 passed the Senate by a voice vote, having received unanimous approval from the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, and Housing two weeks earlier. Immediately following the vote, the Senate messaged the Act to the Assembly. It is not yet known if or when that body will vote on the Act.
“Obviously, today was a giant step forward for this bill,” said Taylor. “But our work this afternoon won’t mean anything unless the Assembly takes action on the legislation. I trust that the Assembly will do what’s in the best interests of Wisconsin’s citizens and pass this bill.”