via Fox 6 Now
MILWAUKEE -- A group of lawmakers says Wisconsin's sex offender registry is watered down with teenagers who have no purpose being on it, and they've proposed legislation to carve out a so-called "Romeo and Juliet" exemption.
Under the bill, teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 years old who have consensual sex would no longer be put on the state registry, though they would be guilty of a misdemeanor crime. Wisconsin law makes it illegal for two people under the age of 18 to have sexual contact, regardless of consent.
State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, said 30 lawmakers have signed onto the bill he's authored with state Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee.
"We want people to look at the sex offender registry and know who is a danger," Kleefisch said in an interview. "If we dilute the sex offender registry, we're doing a disservice to the public."
Wisconsin's registry has more than 20,000 names, including some people who have been convicted of violent felonies. The issue often creates a firestorm when the state attempts to place violent offenders in neighborhoods, drawing opposition from neighbors.
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