Costs of Sexual Predator Housing Soar

Wisconsin taxpayers are shelling out more than expected to keep sexual predators confined. The Appleton Post-Crescent said it now costs almost 43-million dollars a year to keep over 360 sex offenders confined at the Sand Ridge Treatment Center in Mauston. Officials expected the law to have only a small effect on taxpayers when it was established in 1994. But Assembly Republican Dean Kaufert of Neenah calls the expense “a necessary evil.” He says the public wants to be protected from sexually violent criminals, and none of his constituents have ever complaint about the cost. Representative Pat Strachota of West Bend chairs a panel that’s looking at criteria for possible supervised releases of sexually violent offenders. She says the cost is a matter of public safety – and a price-tag cannot be put on it. The numbers of sexual predators in Wisconsin had risen before Sand Ridge opened in 2001. It’s been at over 300 since 2005, but the number has leveled off in the past four years. The Post-Crescent says there have been 97 supervised releases of sex offenders to Wisconsin communities since 1994, plus 68 total discharges. Sand Ridge director Deborah McCullough says she’s encouraged that relatively few people have committed new crimes after leaving her institution. That figure is estimated to be around five-percent.