Wisconsin Supreme Court: Sex Offender Registries Needn't Be Limited to Sex Offenders


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.

Scott Greenfield comments:

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.


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  1. I once grabbed my son by the arm when he was 8 years old and forced him to go to school. Please don’t tell on me.

    1. According to the laws now, you are a child abuser, depending on if you ‘got anything out of it’ you could also be a sex offender. If you watched Blue Lagoon you have watched CHILD porn. So I would say that everyone SHOULD be on the list considering the criteria for being on there. All of us are sex offenders. If we take the same test others have to because they have been charged or convicted of a sex crime, ALL of us would come up with a risk factor, we would all come up Low risk. For it is impossible to come up on the Static-99 as NO risk.

  2. 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.”

    Why can’t we just declare them unpersons, and be done with it? Maybe then we could load them into boxcars and, you know, put them somewhere out of sight and out of mind?

    1. Now you’re onto something!

      After all, sex offenses are worse than even murder!

      Who needs a trial or evidence! Just hang em or fry em!

    2. That is so 20th century.

      1. You know who else loaded people into boxcars…

        1. Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. I loved the freaks!

    3. Nah. Doesn’t destroy their dignity completely enough. Better to subject them to a life-time of furtive dates, and under-the-table jobs; knowing that the day someone Googles you, its the end.

  3. Sex offender registries include names unrelated to “sex” or “offender.” Urinating in public (in addition to unlawful detention of a minor) also qualifies for inclusion. Many people are erroneously named even though they have committed no offense. They have no recourse and there is no penalty for those making these listing errors.

    Government at its finest.

    1. People who are on the list due to clerical error do have a recourse, but it’s a pain. They can sue to have their name removed. If the state courts won’t hear the case then I’m sure the federal courts will. As I said, it’s a pain, not to mention expensive. Sometimes, simply notifying the state that there is a clerical error and sending a copy to your local newspaper and your lawmaker will get the job done faster and cheaper.

      1. Thanks for the info.

        But I still maintain they have no real recourse. As you point out, fighting it is a pain – difficult, expensive and time-consuming. And far from a sure thing. In the meantime, they are still on the list. Do they get any compensation for damages either? No. And the damages are major – economic and personal. It should be worth millions. Does the person who fucked up (mistakenly or even on purpose) receive any punishment? Likely not.

        Sounds like they are still fucked although eventually, with luck and a lot of effort, not completely fucked.

        These fascists have created a greater problem than the original “problem.”

        1. And what about those non sex offenders who cannot blame clerical error for being listed – those who urinated in public, those who had sex with their girlfriend in high school or the poor sap in the article? They have absolutely no recourse. Even if the laws are eventually changed, there is no remedy for them.

    2. I love how the courts are just like “we know there wasn’t an actual sexual offense committed but welp, that’s the way the dang ol’ law is written so we have to do this anyway, sorry!”

  4. So it’s changing from a “sex offender” list to an “offender” list. Super. The criminalization of everyone (except cops and politicians) continues.

    1. Soon, the list shall be all encompassing that to “not” be on the list will be shameful. Once we’re all criminals, we’re all in it together, no?

      1. You are right about that.

        Considering that kids under 15 are on the list, it won’t be long and anyone on the sex offender registry will be as accepted as homosexuals are today.

        By the time my 12-year-old son is my age, the registry will be a joke.

    2. That’s it, you’re on the list!

    3. Cops and Politicians don’t have to be criminalized for the same reason that pigs and wolves don’t have to be dehumanized.

  5. See Something, Say Something

    We’re all on the list, now.

  6. As long as they rename the registry to the “dangerous offender” or the “selected offense offender” registry I don’t see the problem beyond the general problems I have with sex-offender registries.

    As long as it’s called the “sex offender” registry it’s a blatant lie if it contains non-sex offenders. The government should not be in the business of perpetuating lies.

    I have a problem with blanket sex offender registries because they pretend to “protect the public” from people who are “dangerous” but instead they identify people based on their past not their present. While it’s true you can’t put someone on the list if they’ve committed no crime, anyone who commits a new felony against another person (i.e. assault, not felony tax cheating) should be required to undergo an individualized evaluation right before release. If he’s at risk for re-offending he should register for 1 year then be individually re-evaluated until he’s no longer a danger to re-offend. Except in cases where almost everyone is a likely victim, the list should be “need to know only” – you would need to prove you were a likely victim to get access to the list. This means you’d be told about your neighbors and a few others but would not be able to see those on the list who live 20 miles away or across the state.

    1. “The government should not be in the business of perpetuating lies.”

      Of course it shouldn’t be. But it is.

    2. “The government should not be in the business of perpetuating lies.”

      LOL! Good one!

    3. “The government should not be in the business of perpetuating lies.”

      What else is the government qualified to do?

  7. The most ridiculous thing about this situation is that the 17 year old “offender” was tried as an adult while the 17 year old “victim” was considered a minor.

    1. It is ridiculous. Haven’t these people heard about Obamacare? You’re not an adult until you’re 26!

      1. Fuuny thing is, people like you don’t realize that government knows every porn site you visit. How long will it be until your on the registry and on websites like this one complaining about having to register?

        The fact that we allow our legal system pick and choose when a child is a child, or an adult should be alarming to everyone.

  8. I don’t see why anyone is surprised by this. Considering the steady march of the definition of “felony” here in America, it isn’t surprising how the “sex offender registry” has experienced a similar mission creep!

    Being labeled a “felon” was supposed to be for the most wretched scum in society and the same thing was promised in regards to being named a “sex offender” but now it’s gone all to hell as the definition of felony has expanded to the point that the average citizen commits several felonies a day and pretty soon the sex offenses will catch up!

    And they’ll eventually come up with a new label/list after “sex offender registries” become just as bloated as “felon registries” because their is always some assholes who wants to put everybody in jail for everything and their will always be some pandering piece of shit politician who wants to be seen as “tough on crime” (at least in how it relates to the poor and working class)!

    1. you are right but really, these moves by the government and the people in power on our benches in our counties are all looking for POWER over the rest of us. Get us all to commit enough crimes, put us on registries where they can arrest us if we aren’t compliant with ‘their rules as they choose to enforce them’ and they have the makings for yet ANOTHER Nazi Germany.

  9. I don’t see this getting passed SCOTUS if they take it up.

  10. Two nuns walk into an alley where they are immediately set upon by two rapists…

    Nun #1 (praying aloud): “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do!”

    Nun #2 (moaning in ecstasy): “I don’t know about yours but mine sure knows what he’s doing!”

    1. Give it a few years and the Gestapo/Uncle Sam will being kicking down my door for that one!

      1. Fuck! Someone’s ringing my doorbell!

        1. Fucking Jehova’s Witnesses!

          I almost shit my heart!

  11. I wonder if I can get wrongly put on the No-Fly and Kid-Toucher lists at the same time, kind of a two-fer deal of ineptitude? Maybe I get a Groupon deal or something for the feat.

    As a fun side-note, there’s a guy on the Kid Toucher list down my street. But he doesn’t show up on the local data-base search unless you look him up by name, because he input his ZIP code wrong on Form 19a374fd210s92-741283 or whatever, so he shows up on location search on the right street in the wrong county. I feel safer already.

    1. Don’t worry, he’ll be put in prison soon for failing to fill out and submit the 278 necessary forms to correct the ZIP code error.

      1. Don’t worry, he’ll be put in prison soon for failing to fill out and submit the 278 necessary forms to correct the ZIP code error.

        I don’t know, your suggestion implies the government actually doing something correctly from process POV. My guess is they do something goofier and cooler, like throw me in the can instead for not calling Kid-Toucher in like good informants are supposed to do. But instead of throwing me in, its the neighbor’s dog who they THINK is me because some other GIGO’ed computer told them too. Fido gets put to sleep, I keep laughing, Kid Toucher keeps on a’touching. And it only cost $5000 in loans from Uncle Mao…Yes We Can!

        1. You got it about right. Actually Kid Toucher on the list isn’t actually a Kid Toucher but the real Kid Toucher lives next door with the 5 kids he abducted over the past 10 years,not to mention the 10 bodies in his basement. And he’s not on the list. And his probation officer occasionally knocks on the door and just says hello without looking inside.

          1. But he passes his piss test with Golden Seal so its all good…

  12. I fear that, in the future, the government will give every man a simple test using a plethysmograph or the like, and everyone who “fails” will be put on the list.

    People will shrug and say “gee-whiz” just like they’re doing now.

    1. I don’t think anyone has said “gee whiz” since like 1958.

      1. “Gee Wally, that jackboot in my ass kinda hurts.”

        “Yeah Beave, Jackbooter’s a real creep.”

      2. “Gee whiz,” or something equally inane.

    2. Actually they’ll probably add names to the list randomly, much like today I guess. Then when you call, they’ll say “Gee whiz, I guess I got you mixed up with Bob next door. Sucks to be you. Have a good day.” Click. Again much like today.

      Or maybe they’ll hook the plesthysmograph up to your gonads and fry them if you miss a question or if you’re a bit slow answering.

      Or maybe they’ll just shoot you on the spot if you fail.

      Of course later data will show that the plesthysmograph doesn’t actually work better than flipping a coin.

  13. Then: It’s not a slippery slope. Sex offenders are a special case. They are more heinous and evil and likely to re-offend then other criminals. So this nifty new power will only be used on them.

    Now: Well, these assholes are pretty heinous and evil, too. Right?

    Give it time: Recording an officer in the execution of his duties is at least as heinous and evil and jaywalking, so obviously these fanatical felonious filming freaks belong on the sex offenders registry. I mean, what if they get you childrun in the frame?

    //OK, so I exaggerate a little.

  14. Where did this level of failure start? Was it when we lowered the requirements to get on the list or when we created a list in the first place designed to make it impossible for a reformed criminal to reintegrate into society?

    If they’re reformed, why are we punishing them for the rest of their life? If they’re not reformed, why are we releasing them into the public?

    1. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has also recently held that it’s “rape” to have sex with a corpse. State v. Grunke, 752 N.W.2d 769 (Wis. 2008).

      Logically, people on the registry for this crime should be forbidden to live within 2500 feet of a funeral home or cemetery.

      1. Not that these guys have my sympathy…but this case like sooooo many others proves why you should never talk to the police.

        Cop: What are those condoms for? (per the opinion – they had condoms, a crowbar, and an excavator)

        Grunke – I Want a lawyer per 5A Mr. 5-0.
        At trial, maybe convictions on trespass and grave robbing – no way a sex case. What were the condoms for? Who knows? But they talked…

  15. It should be added, in fairness to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, that they didn’t say having consensual sex with a corpse would be “rape.”

    To the contrary, the court was careful to say that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intercourse was “without consent.” 752 N.W.2d at 776.

  16. In a related opinion, State v. the Restofus, the Wisconsin Supreme Court* also announced that sex offender registries need not also be registries…Allowing LEOs to designate anyone, anytime, at any place – to be an “offender”

    * Wisconsin Supreme Court – when that is said, I almost laugh… I picture a bunch of potatoes in black robes, no that’s the Idaho supreme court – ok, ok, a bunch of toothless banjo players…no that is Mississippi Court, ok – then it has to be a bunch of cheeses in black robes or Cheese heads in black robes I can’t decide.

  17. So basically the sex offender registry is now compeltely meaningless except in the eyes of the few idiots who work in government.

    I wonder how accurate these registries are in insolvent states like Illinois, New Jersey, and California.

  18. The registries in almost every state include people that have never committed a sex crime, but have been put on there because the crime they did commit sometimes can be related to a sex crime.

    This reminds me of the early 30’s in Germany, Austria, and Europe in general. Those that do not heed history are DOOMED to repeat it. Back then it was the Jews, now it is “Offenders” so they can lock anyone up not just one religious sect. We fight ‘wars on terror’, I always thought a war was against another country or opposing force, but “Terror” the last time I checked was nothing more than a word in the English Language.

  19. “The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed?would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper?the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”

    “People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.”

    Quotes from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four

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