August 14, 2015

Local Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Voided Under Proposed State Law

8-14-15 Wisconsin:

A map of Green Bay, nearly entirely coated in red, has made a symbolic statement for nearly a decade.

Unless granted an exception, sex offenders cannot live in all those red areas, about 90 percent of the city, because it’s within 2,000 feet of schools, parks, daycares or other places children generally congregate.

But a new law, recently proposed by state lawmakers, would void that and all other local residency restrictions across the state.

Assembly Bill 290
creates the first uniform bill regulating where sex offenders can live, no matter what community they’re in.

Under the proposal, a high-risk sex offender, one with certain offenses against children, would not be able to live within 1,000 feet of schools or daycares anywhere in the state.

It would cut in half the restriction Green Bay currently has.

At first glance, Alderman Chris Wery doesn’t like it.

“They’re really watering down what we’re trying to do in Green Bay. They take out the playground or park part. It’s still schools, but they take out the playground and park,” says Wery.

Law enforcement and Department of Corrections have said for years they’re worried sex offenders will go off the grid, with no indication where they really are, because residency restrictions are simply too tight.

Take the case of Roy O’Neal , the sex offender with a murder conviction we told you about Tuesday.

Court documents show the Department of Health Services searched for more than one year, but couldn’t find him a home, citing local housing restrictions.

Lawmakers say there are more than 400 sex offenders unaccounted for right now, sparking the need for the bill.

“The last thing we want is to push sex offenders underground. Right now there are judges who are saying some of these municipal codes are too strict and they’re letting them go. That can’t happen. When that happens, our children aren’t safe,” says Rep. Joel Kleefisch, (R) Oconomowoc, who authored the bill.

“We want to know where these individuals are going. If you make the law so restrictive that they can’t abide by it, they’re going to go underground. We won’t know where they are,” says Captain Dave Konrath with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.

Green Bay also created its sex offender residency board to evaluate appeals individually.

While that’s not currently in the law, one board member hopes it will be.

“I’ve just seen the basics of the law, and it seems pretty one size fits all, and I think it needs to be a little bit more reviewed,” says Green Bay Sex Offender Residency Board Member Dean Gerondale.

Wery plans to bring this up in meetings with other Green Bay aldermen as soon as next week.

State lawmakers hope to hold a public hearing on it next month. ..Source.. by Sarah Thomsen

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