The Legal Watchdog blog looks at a terrible decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in which it upheld an order for a 17-year-old to register as as sex offender, even though he committed no sex crime. The youth forced another 17-year-old to accompany him to collect a debt. This was enough to convict him of falsely imprisoning a minor, which the Wisconsin legislature has defined as a sex crime.
Of critical importance is that the court did not hold that the purpose of the sex offender registry is in any way directly related to sex, but rather “protecting the public and assisting law enforcement.” That pretty much covers everything in the world, except releasing Brett Favre when he still had life in his arm.
By decoupling sex from the sex offender registry, there’s no rational end to where legislatures can go. It’s invariably in the interest of protecting the public and, my personal favorite concern, assisting law enforcement to keep tabs on every person ever convicted of anything, anywhere, any time. It’s like an “easy button” for law enforcement, and seriously, wouldn’t that make cops’ lives easier?
Wisconsin isn’t the first state to tag people with the sex offender label for crimes unrelated to sex. See the story of Fitzroy Barnaby.