April 30, 2015

Officials look to state for answers on sex offender residency

4-30-15 Wisconsin:

Richard Rosa’s brother, Raymond, is one of a number of former sex offenders facing an uncertain future because of an ordinance passed by the City of Milwaukee Common Council last fall that severely limits where individuals convicted of a sexual offense can live.

Raymond Rosa, 48, was convicted of second degree sexual assault in the case of a 15-year-old friend of his daughter in 2005. Rosa received a 12-year sentence, consisting of seven years of imprisonment and five years of extended supervision. Rosa was released in 2012 and, after failing a drug test, ended up on a list of offenders wanted by the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department in late 2013.

At that time, Raymond had been working as an electrician’s apprentice for two or three months after some schooling through WRTP/BIG STEP, Richard said. He has, most recently, served about 15 months at Jackson Correctional Institution in Black River Falls but is set to be released at the beginning of June and is facing the prospect of living in his van.

“He called me a month and a half ago and he said, ‘Rich, they’re trying to kill me,’” Richard Rosa said, referring to the effects of the new ordinance. “He’s scared.”

The ordinance, which restricts sex offenders from maintaining a permanent residence less than 2,000 feet from a school, day care, park, recreational trail, playground or “any other place designated by the city as a place where children are known to congregate,” leaves precious few areas where sex offenders who are released from prison can legally reside on a permanent basis. The 2014 legislation came in response to similar ordinances restricting where sex offenders can live in all 18 other municipalities within Milwaukee County.

A recent panel discussion of the ordinance at the Washington Park Senior Center addressed what some called the unintended consequences of the legislation. Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council President Michael Murphy, Wisconsin Department of Correction Region 3 Chief Niel Thoreson and Capt. James Shepard who commands the Sensitive Crimes Division of the Milwaukee Police Department, participated on the panel.

Murphy, who opposed the legislation, said he understands the concerns of some of his colleagues who felt Milwaukee was becoming a “dumping ground” for sex offenders in the county. Murphy said a 2014 analysis of DOC data by his office showed that of sex offenders living in the county in 2007, 89 percent resided in Milwaukee.

Thoreson, whose office is responsible for monitoring offenders in Milwaukee County, said this issue is not limited to the state’s largest city. Thoreson said the cities of Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Green Bay and Madison also shoulder the heaviest burden when it comes to housing sex offenders in their respective counties. ..Continued.. by Jabril Faraj

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