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Will white collar crime registries become widespread?

From fines to prison sentences, there are already a great deal of consequences a conviction on white collar crime charges can cause a person to face. Recently, one state, Utah, decided to add yet another: the possibility of being on a registry.

Registries are something most people probably associate with sex offenses. Every state in the country has a sex offender registry. However, some states have branched out into also having registries for other types of crimes.

Up until Utah’s system though, there hadn’t been any state registries specific to financial crimes.

The new registry that Utah has put in place is for individuals convicted of certain white collar crimes in the state. How long a qualifying convicted individual would be on the list depends in part on their past conviction record. As a note, under the Utah system, paying court-ordered restitution in full and obeying all court orders on time can allow a person convicted of qualifying crimes to stay off of the registry.

Those who support the registry claim it could help with protecting the public from scams and encouraging the paying in full of restitution payments. Those critical of it say it raises rights issues and could particularly disadvantage lower-income individuals convicted of financial crimes (as these individuals could face more challenges in being able to make restitution payments).

The new system in Utah reflects a general trend that has been happening in the U.S.: a trend of more and more states using registries for things beyond sex crimes. This is an impactful trend, given the major implications being on a registry can have for a person. For one, being on a registry could put a long-lasting, or even permanent, blemish on a person’s reputation. It could also have significant ramifications regarding a person’s opportunities, such as employment and community-involvement opportunities.

Possible concerns that this trend could raise include worries that it could lead to registries being used for crimes they aren’t really well suited for and to far too many people ending up on a registry.

One wonders if this trend will continue in the future. One also wonders if other states, like our state of Wisconsin, will decide to follow Utah’s lead and include financial crimes among the things they have registries for.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “New Twist on the Sex-Offender Registry: Financial Crime,” Jean Eaglesham, March 24, 2016

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