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"Wisconsin's sex offender registry program allows law enforcement-and the public-to keep tabs on serious offenders," says Van Hollen. "Today's decision will better ensure public safety by helping us identify people who pose a threat to the safety of our children."
MADISON: This morning, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that the State of Wisconsin may require a convicted felon to register as a sex offender, even though his offense of conviction lacks a sexual element.
James Smith must register as a sex offender under Wis. Stat. 301.45 because he has been convicted in Brown County Circuit Court of falsely imprisoning a child. He argued in the court of appeals that requiring him to register violated his constitutional rights to substantive due process and equal protection-and that his conviction for not complying with the reporting requirement should be reversed-because he did not falsely imprison a child for sexual reasons, but rather to collect a drug debt. The court of appeals disagreed, concluding that the registration statute has two purposes-public protection and assistance to law enforcement-and both are reasonably served by requiring Smith to register.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Department of Justice defended the constitutionality of the registration laws in the court of appeals. He praised today's decision. "Wisconsin's sex offender registry program allows law enforcement-and the public-to keep tabs on serious offenders," said Van Hollen. "Today's decision will better ensure public safety by helping us identify people who pose a threat to the safety of our children."
James Smith is currently incarcerated at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin. He must comply with Wisconsin sex offender registration requirements until July of 2020.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections maintains the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry. The public may gain access to this information at this website:
Today's decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in State of Wisconsin v. James W. Smith appears on the court's website:
The Brown County District Attorney's Office litigated the case in circuit court. Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Rapp St. John represented the State of Wisconsin in the court of appeals.