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Park Bench Not a Valid Home Address for Wisconsin Sex Offender

Most states, like Wisconsin, keep record of the sex offenders that reside in their state. Wisconsin currently has a sex offender registry that keeps track of over 21,000 sex offenders. Usually someone who is convicted of a sex crime is required to register.

Back in 1999, a Wisconsin man was convicted of a sex crime and given a 10-year prison sentence. When he was released in 2008, he failed to provide an address for the sex offender registry. As a result, he was thereafter convicted of violating the sex offender registry law.

The Wisconsin sex offender registry law requires convicted sex offenders to give their address 10 days before their prison release date. But this man did not have a home address because he was homeless. He appealed the conviction for not providing an address.

The argument against him was that he could have just given the location of where he was planning to sleep and that would count as a valid residence. Otherwise it could open the door for other sex offenders to just claim that they are homeless and avoid providing a valid address.

The Court of Appeals ruled in the homeless man's favor, holding that individuals who did not have a place to live after prison do not have to provide a valid address. It makes sense because they don't have a valid address to give.

The Court of Appeals also addressed the state's concern about sex offenders avoiding registration by stating that the number of sex offenders who are in the same situation as this homeless man is small. They do believe however that the sex offender registry law needs to be adjusted to account for convicted sex offenders who leave prison without a home.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, "Homeless sex offender doesn't have to give address," Scott Bauer, 18 November 2010

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