Online Meth Registries on the Rise

By Anna Schecter

Aug 25, 2006 9:14am

Despite the controversy over an online database that lists the names of methamphetamine offenders in Tennessee, both Illinois and Minnesota lawmakers have recently approved similar registries that list the names, birth dates and counties of residence of people convicted of methamphetamine crimes. Critics, including some law enforcement officers, say the database stigmatizes those trying to move on with their lives and are disturbed to see the registry database model spread to more states. Still, Georgia, Maine, Oklahoma, Washington state and West Virginia are all considering implementing meth offender registries.  Tennessee has more than 400 people on its meth offender registry. The database allows neighbors and landlords to see who in their communities have been convicted of producing or trafficking meth. Meth labs often create a toxic environment in the home or area where meth is being made. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty created a registry that is to be online by the end of December.  "We want to arm citizens with information," said a spokesperson for the Governor.  "And if your name is going up on a website, you’ll think twice about manufacturing or trafficking meth." Critics worry, however, that the trend of making people’s criminal pasts public knowledge could get out of control. "Fast forward five, 15, 20 years, you can see this spreading out to virtually every type of offense," said Ryan King of the Sentencing Project, a national nonprofit organization that promotes alternatives to incarceration. "I think that’s definitely not a society that we want to be living in." A spokesman at the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C., said that, at the moment, they are not taking a position on the issue of meth offender databases.

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