At least 14 governors have signed laws on sex offenders this year, including Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle on Monday, reports USA Today. The measures extend prison sentences, restrict where offenders can live, improve public notification of their whereabouts, and order electronic monitoring or broaden prosecutorial power. At least 10 states have passed tough bills that await final approval. More bills are pending, including one in South Carolina that would make some molesters eligible for the death penalty and another in Louisiana that would require them to get special orange driver’s licenses stamped “sex offender.”
Members of Congress are considering legislation to create a national Internet database to track convicted sex offenders. Both House and Senate versions would set uniform rules for when and what information sex offenders would report. They would make failure to register a felony and give states aid for global positioning system tracking devices. Despite public fear, data show a dramatic drop in sex crimes against kids in the past decade, says David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. He sees election-year politics in some efforts.