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Posted at 1:39 PM, Feb 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-11 14:39:11-05
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's online resources to find details about sex offenders are generating millions of page views.
USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports that sections of the state Department of Corrections' website that provide details on sex offenders generated 19 million page views last year. The department's sex offender registry, offender locator and "Wisconsin's Most Wanted" averaged a combined 481,000 visits per month.
Corrections officials say the sex offender registry has become a resource for residents researching prospective child care providers, youth sports coaches and other people working with children.
Grace Knutson, the department's director of sex offender programs, said the registry is helpful, and that residents are using the list "as it was intended." Matt Kuether, an investigator with Appleton police, also believes the registries work well, saying: "The biggest thing I talk to people about (is) the registry is an informational tool. It's not meant to be a punishment."
Some critics say the registries do more harm than good, and feed a culture of fear.
"I think they're terrible and worthless - worse than worthless. They are damaging," said Emily Horowitz, professor and chairwoman of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at St. Francis College in New York. "There's no evidence that they decrease (the number of) sex offenders or have made anyone safer."
More than 24,000 convicted sex offenders were on Wisconsin's registry as of mid-January. Of those, 5,914 were incarcerated, 5,814 were on community supervision and 12,729 were off community supervision, according to Tristan Cook, the department's communications director.
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