Town Meeting on Violent Sex Offender Release

By WSAU News

TOWN OF ALBAN, WI (WSAU) -- Portage County officials continue to build their argument to keep another violent sex offender from being relocated to the Town of Alban.

The release hearing for offender Jason Staves has been pushed back to February 10th. Staves was likely to be assigned to a home across the street from the Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative, which contains a community room that regularly hosts events with families and children present.

In front of more than 60 concerned citizens at a town hall meeting, Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) took ideas on how to avoid these situations.

Shankland said, "I have colleagues who don't know what an electric cooperative is because they live in a city, so how can you expect their judge to understand that an electric cooperative is a community gathering point? There's wedding receptions and baby showers here... that's the challenge."

Portage County Judge Thomas Flugar previously denied the release of a violent sex offender to the same location in Alban. Shankland hopes to add past rulings to the list of criteria for release in her legislation.

She said, "We need to make sure that everyone's voice on the community level is heard, and that requires a law change. I think the legislators need to not only respect local control, but the local authorties and local elected officials who are best equipped to make this decision."

Peter Yogerst, another violent sex offender, has already been relocated to that residence. Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas hopes he can convince the Chippewa County Court not to make the same choice.

Lukas said, "I am writing a letter in regards to the use of this building and the use of the property," said Lukas. "We're hoping that... [the Chippewa County judge] will have an opportunity to look at the local judge's court ruling and hopefully rule in favor of not placing somebody out here."

However, Lukas did mention to the citizens that it's not uncommon to pair released offenders together, saying they often keep each other from making mistakes and destroying their chances of rejoining society.

Shankland is working with Rep. Mark Born on the legislation, which could also include giving advance notice of a conditional release to that municipality, something that Alban did not have.