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WI: 7th Circuit upholds $100 annual sex offender registry fee

The $100 that Wisconsin sex offenders must pay every year for being listed on a registry is not an unlawful fine, a federal appeals court has ruled. But the court did not address other lifetime conditions of Wisconsin sex offender registration because it found the challengers lacked standing. The decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by a Green Bay federal judge, and also thwarted the plaintiffs’ request to proceed as unnamed. Instead, the court added their names to the case.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach had ruled the $100 fee amounted to a fine and therefore was an unlawful “ex post facto” punishment for the two plaintiffs, who had been convicted before Wisconsin adopted the sex offender monitoring law. Full Article

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  1. JohnDoeUtah

    Well, this screws up the lawsuit i was going to file here in Utah within the next few weeks. Time to start digging into the 10th Circuit a bit more here on fees. But, I could not disagree more.

    “We disagree. The fee is intended to compensate the state for the expense of maintaining the sex offender registry. [b]The offenders are responsible for the expense, so there is nothing “punitive” about making them pay for it, any more than it is “punitive” to charge a fee for a passport.[/b] If there were no passports, there would be no passport office, and no expenses of operating such an office. The state provides a service to the law-abiding public by maintaining a sex offender registry, but there would be no service and hence no expense were there no sex offenders. As they are responsible for the expense, there is nothing punitive about requiring them to defray it.”

    Sex offenders are not responsible for the registry’s existence, the states are. The State created the laws which required the duty to register, not the offenders. Before 1996, there were not many sex offender registries – yet there were plenty of sexual offenders. Therefore, the Court’s logic is flawed. Its the chicken vs. the egg argument, and has no value. This decision is worth less than toilet paper, to be used in much the same way.

    • mike

      My argument with the Passport comparison to the registry is that a passport is something you voluntarily request. I didn’t read where the gentlemen listed in this suit requested to be put on the registry. Anyone requesting to be put on a registry SHOULD have to pay the fee’s. What’s next? Are they going to start charging Sex Offender’s for their time spent in prison?

  2. Q

    I doubt they will make any money off of this one, that’s for sure. Consider the difficulty finding a job, let alone hanging on to one thanks to the registry. I feel bad for all the people that will probably end up in prison because they don’t have $100. I don’t feel bad in the least for the taxpayers; this is going to co$t allot of money. It looks like another state shot it’s self in the foot; again!

  3. AS

    No one with any sense of decency and fair play could render such a ridiculous judgement.
    It’s no wonder society is becoming less respectful of our [justice] (cancel that) our legal system.

  4. Joe

    How long before some legislator hack in California will think of this? According to this decision and Doe v. Harris from last summer it is perfectly legal.

    People, better click on that PayPal button to the right! Better donate to CA RSOL to fight for your rights now than pay the State of California to further ruin your life later.

  5. Joe

    A FEE is something I voluntary pay for a service or privilege I choose to utilize. Like my Price Club Membership for shopping, Driver’s License fee for legally driving or Passport for traveling to foreign countries, should the mood strike.

    Monies I am required to pay, under threat of prosecution and legal consequences such as incarceration, arising from a prior action, are a FINE. Such as the fine I must pay for speeding on the freeway or the fine that is part of a criminal sentence. A Fine is a PUNISHMENT for breaking the law.

    A Fine after the fact is EX POST FACTO Punishment. Ex Post Facto Punishment is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    It is really not that difficult.

  6. Brubaker

    That backwards wisconsin ruling is soooooo flawed and inconsistent ……its like an umpire calling strikes for one
    team pitcher a foot outside the plate and not the other
    team’s ………the ruling is flawed inconsistent and extremely
    lacks logic.

    • Brubaker

      This is by far a winnable case…like Brubaker said the logic and reasoning are
      flawed and reckless…..unbelievable the example they gave….unbelievable.

  7. Ron

    I would contribute more often through PayPal if the PayPal receipt used rsol as the receipt name instead of “sex offender” in the receipt title. I donated once and will not do it again until this receipt “Label” is more generic. The receipt “Label” gets posted both on PayPal and in an email. Privacy is so important to us!

    • Janice Bellucci

      Good point, Ron! We will look into this and see what we need to do to change the PayPal receipt label. Please give us a few days.

      • Bluewall

        Hopefully this “Fee” doesn’t come to California…

        *hits donate button* give a little now, or pay more in the future

        • Q

          Hi Bluewall;
          I agree! I would rather willingly give $100 to CARSOL than the state (Calif) that is the leader in stupid.

  8. Tim

    Registrants, who have completed their sentences and have not commited another crime, ARE law abiding citizens, and the monitoring is not a service to them, but an aberration. This fee is a tax and the registrants are not being represented as citizens, but as chattels.

  9. G4Change

    HOW CAN THIS BE LEGAL???? It’s not a fee. This is lunacy!!!

  10. Eric Knight

    I would love to find the arguments for the case itself. I believe that the defense lawyer (attorney for the registrants) made some assumptions that the justices understood that sex registration was not the same as passport registration. In other words, the attorney felt that a stipulation that would normally be present in 99% in all other cases would apply here. This speaks of a overwhelming lack of pragmatic understanding with legal professionals in arguing post-correctional system sex offender cases. I would imagine if Janice were in front of that court, the $100 “fee” would have been dissected six ways to Sunday School, along with a comprehensive argument emphasizing the actual miniscule recidivism rate for registrants.

    Indeed, many comments have indicated a huge Google witch hunt against the registrants. One of them is a musician, and someone found out he worked with a children’s choir, so now they are investigating to see if they can pursue charges against him. The other person works retail in Florida; his employment is now threatened (even though he’s registered publicly in Florida).

  11. Christos

    This ruling amounts to nothing more than the continued persecution of a person who has paid their time. All states maintain case files for all people charged with and convicted of crimes. It is only sex offenders who continue to pay after serving their time. This being the case shouldn’t all offenders have to pay the same fee for the upkeep of the court records? This “fee” is nothing more but continued harassment of a part of our community that has the lowest rate of repeat offences. Murders, bank robbers, drug dealers and other violent offenders do not have to be on a mandatorily forced public list that shows their crimes, address, car they drive, licence plate etc… Don’t you think that the violent criminals that are interacting with our children every day without our knowledge are just as entitled to be on a list like this and charged a yearly fee of $100.00 so we know who they are?
    What happened to our justice system?

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