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Wisconsin "loses" 2,900 sex offenders.
October 14, 2002 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Wisconsin "loses" 2,900 sex offenders. It seems that the state of Wisconsin has "misplaced" approximately 2,900 of it's 9,000+ population of registered sex offenders. Apparently, they've moved within or out of the state without letting the state know. Jim Stingl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks we should all pitch in and help find those missing offenders, and offers some ways he's helping out already
posted by djspicerack (17 comments total)

 
For pete's sake. The state did not "lose" anybody. They don't have any office or any individual charged with "keeping track" of people. How the fuck can they be said to "lose" or "misplace" anything, when it's entirely the responsibility of the convicted individuals to report their own location?

It's a bit like saying "IRS scandal as unreported income goes untaxed".

The only remedy being discussed is raising the penalty for not registering to a felony, from a misdemeanor. It will still be up to the sex offenders to register themselves.

It's what they call a passive or secondary crime. Just like (until recently) most states don't actually pull you over for not wearing a seat belt, but will charge you if you get pulled over for other reasons -- it's something they'll get in trouble for if they're arrested for other crimes. That may be small comfort to neighbors with panopticon concerns -- but it's an inherent fault of a self-reporting system. Unless there's an office of people charged with verification and enforcement, that list is going to continue to "lose" people.

The column is particularly egregious. So what if they're "sipping drinks in the Caribbean" -- they were released from prison, and wouldn't be breaking any laws by doing so. They may freely move to any other state -- one without onerous reporting laws, for example -- and there isn't a damn thing that Wisconsin can do about it.

If the public really, really wants convicted and released sex offenders on "permanent probation", with active monitoring, they're going to have to

a) pass the laws that make that clear to all citizens
b) fund the agency and law-enforcement resources that will do it.
posted by dhartung at 9:39 AM on October 14, 2002


This system is doomed from the start. Many of those "lost" are still at their last registered address; they simply didn't return the periodic letters. If the state is going to track sex offenders, it must take an active role (as in probation), not the passive role described in the article.
posted by mischief at 9:43 AM on October 14, 2002


i had posted this with a bit of a to it on purpose. i wasn't setting judgement one way or another, just found the headline on a lark and thought it was amusing how they were justifying the "lost" releasees as some sort of crisis.

if a system isn't set up to do what the gov't is saying it's supposed to, then they shouldn't just sit there and complain about it and let us make fun of it.

which is exactly why i put quotes around loses and misplaces.... but i digress.

posted by djspicerack at 9:44 AM on October 14, 2002


maybe they should be forced to wear a scarlet letter, or tattoo their crime on their forehead.

The recidivism rate for sex offenders is much lower than other crimes, perhaps people should just calm the fuck down?
posted by Mick at 9:48 AM on October 14, 2002


Well Good Morning Mick....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:51 AM on October 14, 2002


In addition, the long-term follow-up study (15-30 years) of child molesters showed that the average recidivism rate for this group of offenders is actually lower than the average recidivism rate for non-sexual offenders (61% versus 83.2% respectively for any new conviction).

The entire article is here.

Might be lower than other offenders, but still isn't low. Instead of "calming down," maybe they should be a bit excited about it.
posted by Plunge at 10:10 AM on October 14, 2002


I don't know ... I would hate to see other states follow California's lead, where failing to register is one of the offenses that often leads to a 25-life sentence under our three strikes law. It's more common than you'd think -- some guy has registered dutifully since his release, but then moves and is a couple of weeks late sending in the notice, and he goes to prison for the rest of his life. Here, we DO check up on registered offenders; plenty of people get arrested for this when they have not committed another crime. Failing to register is usually a felony (I think it's only a misdemeanor now if the original offense requiring registration was a misdemeanor, but they keep changing this law so don't quote me on that), so it's fair game for the three strikes law. I haven't noticed a sudden dearth of sex offenses in California, so I can't say how well this system works. I can say that I think it's pretty appalling to send someone away for life without distinguishing between a willful violation (someone who is actively evading police contact) vs. forgetting to send in a form, particularly since so many of those convicted are intermittently homeless.
posted by xeney at 10:20 AM on October 14, 2002


find those sex offenders, and you'll find all those missing florida kids.
posted by jcterminal at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2002


jcterminal: sick, very sick
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:15 AM on October 14, 2002


"maybe they should be forced to wear a scarlet letter, or tattoo their crime..."

What would be the legal ramifications/slippery slope of surgically implanting a tracking device in the offender, with a battery life equal to the length of the sentence?
posted by MJoachim at 11:16 AM on October 14, 2002


Apparently, they've moved within or out of the state without letting the state know. Jim Stingl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks we should all pitch in and help find those missing offenders, and offers some ways he's helping out already

I hope the hilarity in your post was intentional.

We're all part of the system. Break the system, man.

I guess I should post a missing persons thread everytime someone takes their 2 week paid vacation.
posted by Aikido at 11:18 AM on October 14, 2002


(please note, I'm just asking in a half-serious manner...)
posted by MJoachim at 11:18 AM on October 14, 2002


yep, the hilarity was intentional... i thought this one was too good to be true.
posted by djspicerack at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2002


What would be the legal ramifications/slippery slope of surgically implanting a tracking device in the offender, with a battery life equal to the length of the sentence?

The thing is, these people have already served their sentences--the registration requirement is in place for the rest of their lives. I agree with dhartung; if the people believe that "sex offenders" cannot be trusted outside of a jail, then they should pass laws keeping them inside. These systems of registration seem unwieldy and dangerous (allowing potential vigilantism); not to mention their inherent unfairness, in that they apply the same tool of public shaming to criminals who have committed serious offenses (rape, child molestation) and those who have committed relatively minor offenses (exhibitionism, public urination).
posted by mr_roboto at 11:39 AM on October 14, 2002


they apply the same tool of public shaming to criminals who have committed serious offenses (rape, child molestation) and those who have committed relatively minor offenses (exhibitionism, public urination).

And the reverse is also true; how many laws requiring those convicted of murder (or manslaughter or felonious assault or a number of other crimes, some of which are as bad as if not worse than child molestation) to register or be somehow monitored permanently? What is it specifically about "sex" offenses that bring out the scarlet letter brigade?
posted by deadcowdan at 1:28 PM on October 14, 2002


Since Megan's Law is so popular, we could start forcing people who are caught stealing to register with the state and we could call that Fagin's Law. And people who refuse to eat beef would have to register after we pass Vegan's Law. And Pagan's Law would cover wiccans. And Reagan's Law would mean ex-Presidents would have to register. And all astronomers would be covered under Sagan's Law.

Stop me someone before I hurt myself.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:21 PM on October 14, 2002


Reagan's Law would mean ex-Presidents would have to register.

shouldn't Regan's law cover actor-turned-politicians? or other more cruel things that i've decided not to write.
posted by tolkhan at 8:43 AM on October 15, 2002


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