February 13, 2008

 

Assembly Committee Hears Testimony on E-Disclosure Act

MADISON – Today, the Assembly Committee on Corrections and Courts heard testimony on Assembly Bill 562, 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).  The Act would require 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 in the Legislature 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, alerting parents to the presence and identity of sex offenders in their communities.  The Sex Offender E-Disclosure Act would add personal e-mail accounts and websites to the list of required information.

“Ultimately, the internet is like any other place of association,” Taylor noted. “Like a school or a residential area, 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 our neighborhoods.”

Assembly Bill 562’s Senate companion, Senate Bill 382, is expected to receive the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, and Housing at an executive hearing tomorrow.  Taylor, who serves as chair of the Committee, was hopeful that the bill would quickly go before the whole Senate.

“Tomorrow is a big day for this bill,” she said. “Every step we take in getting the E-Disclosure Act passed is a victory for Wisconsin’s families.  The biggest win, of course, will be getting it passed by the Senate and I’m going to do everything I can to get us that chance within the next few weeks.”