Laws to protect the public by listing sex offenders on Internet registries are colliding with laws intended to shield the identities of children who get into trouble, says USA Today. Amie Zyla, 18, of Wisconsin, has successfully promoted the idea that the public’s right to know of a sex offender living nearby trumps a juvenile’s right to keep court records secret. She persuaded her state’s legislators to let police notify neighbors about the presence of a juvenile sex offender they consider a public risk. Now, Congress is finishing work on a bill she promoted that could include juveniles on a federal registry. It would make failure to register a felony.
Zyla began her campaign when Joshua Wade, who was sent to a juvenile home for sexually assaulting her when she was 8 and he was 14, was arrested again for assaulting children. “If they’re a juvenile and they’ve done it, people should know about it,” she says. “Josh got out and he did it all over again.” He has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. The proposed federal law would require states to put juveniles on public registries after sex offenses are handled in juvenile court.