Budget measure targets sex offender placement issues

By Andrew Beckett, Wisconsin Radio Network

A provision added to the state budget could make it easier to release violent sex offenders back into the county where they originally lived.

The move is intended to address an issue seen frequently across the state, especially in more heavily populated areas. Judges are often releasing offenders placed on supervised release in to other counties, because of a lack of available housing in their county of origin. It’s created tension in more rural parts of the state, which have accused larger counties of dumping unwanted sex offenders in their communities.

State Representative Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) argues current residency restrictions are being used by judges as an excuse though. “It’s not that they can’t find a place – in some cases it’s that they won’t,” he says. “So now it’s they have to, and make the best choice within your county.

The proposal would allow communities to consider multiple factors in placing offenders for supervised release, such as limitations on residing within 1,500 feet of locations such as schools, parks, or youth centers. It also removes the option to send offenders to another county.

The proposals was adopted on a 13-3 vote, with state Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) the lone Democrat voting with majority Republicans.