5/22/17 – State Representative Mark Born says current laws governing the most violent sex offenders are so strict that if something does not change judges will be forced to grant release without supervision. The Beaver Dam Republican says the changes he is proposing would give counties more control over placement, waiving 1500-foot residency restrictions. The remaining criteria would remain so that local officials can decide what is best for that county. There are very few so-called Chapter 980 sex-offenders in Wisconsin – around 15 each year – but there are currently two in Dodge County, in Born’s district, who are still in a detention facility long after their release date because adequate housing options keep falling though. Eventually, Born says, the state judges will have to support the constitutional rights of an offender and they are going to have to be released. The current law requires the state to return Chapter 980’s to their county of origin for supervised release, unless housing cannot be found. The new law would have each county create a temporary Chapter 980 Committee for each release comprised of stakeholder groups including representatives from the counties association, public defenders, district attorneys and human services. Born says a good example is Portage County, where an offender could not be placed near a school even though he would have been right next door to a jail. If the offender does not follow the rules of supervised release, then they are returned to a detention facility. Democrats have criticized the inclusion of the law change in the state budget and say it should be a standalone bill. Born says that would be his preference too but the matter has to be addressed before the program is deemed unconstitutional and judges grant Chapter 980 offenders their freedom without supervised release. The statute change would not effect the majority of sex offenders in the state and if a Chapter 980 offender does successfully complete supervised released, they would still be held to the 1500-foot residency restriction.
Listen to our interview with Born here: