February 14, 2008

 

Sex Offender E-Disclosure Act Clears Committee

MADISON – Today, the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, and Housing voted to approve passage of 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 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 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,” noted Taylor, who serves as chair of the Committee. “Like schools or residential areas, it’s a forum where sex offenders 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 received unanimous approval from the Committee.  Yesterday, its Assembly companion, Assembly Bill 562, received a public hearing in the Assembly Committee on Corrections and Courts.  After an eventful week for the Sex Offender E-Disclosure Act, Taylor was hopeful that it would soon go before the full Senate for a vote.  

“The past few days have been huge for this bill in terms of moving it forward in the process,” 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 to that point in the coming weeks.”