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Why is one state creating a white collar offender registry?

When we think of online offender registries, we naturally envision those run by state and federal officials as a means of keeping track of and alerting the public to the presence of those people convicted of sex crimes.

Interestingly enough, at least one state is now poised to expand upon this idea by creating a first-of-its-kind online registry targeting those convicted of a certain class of crime that you might not think would merit such a drastic step.

Earlier this month, the Utah Legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation calling for the creation on an online offender registry for those convicted of white collar crimes.

The legislation, which Governor Gary Herbert has already indicated he will sign, dictates that the state's attorney general office will create and maintain an online registry containing everything from pictures, dates of birth and other identifying information for those convicted of such white collar crimes as money laundering, mortgage fraud and securities fraud.  

First-time offenders would see their profiles on the registry for 10 years, while those convicted of a third offense would see their profiles on the registry permanently. However, in order to encourage restitution, the profiles can be taken down if all victims are fully reimbursed.

Proponents of Utah's white collar crime registry, which will contain profiles dating all the way back to 2005, indicate that it is necessary given the wave of investment fraud, complex marketing schemes and Ponzi schemes that have recently engulfed the business-friendly state, and that it will also help protect consumers.

Indeed, they are hopeful that their actions will spur other states to create their own online white collar crime registries.

Critics of this step, however, have argued that it is draconian and entirely unnecessary given that white collar crime cases are apt to be covered extensively by local and national media, meaning a simple online search will more than likely turn up a person's name.

"Google is already a pretty effective registry," said one criminal defense attorney.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Missouri should consider a similar measure or is such a step gratuitous punishment?

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