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Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 17:09 GMT
State to put rapists on posters
Poster of Mississippi's most-wanted parent who have not paid child support
Another poster shows parents who have not paid child support
The US state of Mississippi plans to put the names and faces of convicted sex offenders on roadside billboards.

About 100 posters showing offenders, particularly those who prey on minors, will be put up, a state official said.

Don Taylor, head of the state's Department of Human Services, told a local newspaper the aim was to make the public aware of their crimes.

But human rights campaigners say the measure is unnecessary as the public is already aware once convicts are jailed.

Mr Taylor is especially keen to name and shame those who make minors pregnant.

He says he wants the state's health department to check the ages parents list on new-borns' birth certificates and report to him any cases of statutory rape.

The age of consent in Mississippi is 16, but mothers in the state sometimes are listed as being as young as 10, Mr Taylor told the local Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

Mississippi has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the US.

Why is it necessary to put them on billboards if they're already serving?
Nsombi Lambright
American Civil Liberties Union

He said the statistics had helped him determine that 111 men were guilty of statutory rape in the year 2002 alone.

"So, if you want to get your name and face in high places, get convicted," he told the newspaper.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Mississippi said the billboards would be a waste of money.

"Why is it necessary to put them on billboards if they're already serving?" its head, Nsombi Lambright, asked.

"If they have criminal charges before them, the information is public, the victims are notified. The people already know in these communities who these folks are once they're arrested."

It is not the first time Mr Taylor's department has used controversial means to highlight problems.

Among others, it has "Mississippi's Ten Most Wanted" posters of parents who have failed to pay child support.

A few US states require sex offenders to be identified as such on their driver's licences.


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