States create more registries to track, deter criminals

WKBT, Wisconsin, USA: 26 February 2007

MADISON, Wis. More states are taking the sex offender registry the next step by tracking a wider swath of convicts.

Such an effort is proposed in Wisconsin.

Representative Scott Suder of Abbotsford is drafting legislation to set up a violent offender registry at the urging of friends of murder victim Leah Gustafson. She was killed by neighbor last year in Superior.

The fate of the proposal is unclear. Republicans control the Assembly, but the bill could run into trouble in the Democrat-led Senate or with Governor Doyle. The state's sex offender registry alone costs nearly two million dollars annually.

Still, Suder wants a database that would include murderers, kidnappers, arsonists and terrorists.

Online databases can tell users whether the person mowing the lawn next door ever cooked methamphetamine, kidnapped a child or killed somebody.

Critics say the expanded registries are as flawed as those for sex offenders. They make politicians look tough on crime, but trample privacy rights, set up registrants for harassment and do little good.

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