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WI: Fairchild residents up in arms over sex offender housing plan

[leadertelegram.com – 3/26/19]

Fairchild residents came out in force Tuesday to share their objections to a plan to potentially house released sexual predators in the community.

Nearly 40 Fairchild area residents packed into a small meeting room Tuesday morning at the Eau Claire County Courthouse to express their outrage at the possibility of housing sex offenders on supervised release at a facility on county-owned land about 1¼ miles northwest of Fairchild. Their comments came during a meeting of Eau Claire County’s Supervised Release Committee, which is tasked with identifying a housing option for someone once deemed a sexually violent person.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Fairchild resident Cathy Weiss, who lives near the potential location.

Several Fairchild residents argued the proposed site, on U.S. 12 near Oak Lane in the town of Fairchild, is inappropriate for such a placement, in part because it is surrounded by woods and has a slow-moving train that regularly goes by the property, providing both cover and an easy means of escape for an offender living there.

“My personal opinion is you couldn’t create a better flight risk if you tried,” said Todd Meyer, chairman of the Fairchild Town Board, adding that he just learned about the proposal last week.
Meyer said Tuesday’s public comments represented just a fraction of the indignation he has heard from residents since news of the proposal started to make its way around the community last week and then became well known after a story in Saturday’s Leader-Telegram.

The concerns center around safety and the potential negative impact on property values and the village’s ability to attract more residents and services.
Rick Eaton, assistant corporation counsel for the county and chairman of the Supervised Release Committee, emphasized that no final decision has been made about where to house a sex offender scheduled for supervised release.

“There’s obviously a concern, and I understand that concern. I have kids,” Eaton said. “Nobody’s going to want a sex offender living on the property next door to them.”

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  1. Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

    “Fairchild residents up in arms over sex offender housing plan” -Eau Claire, Wisconsin

    We couldn’t possibly tolerate “sex offenders” in our community because “…it is surrounded by woods and has a slow-moving train that regularly goes by the property, providing both cover and an easy means of escape for an offender living there.” Also: poor cell phone service in the area, no local grocery stores or medical clinics. Plus, there are some Amish people in the area who likely won’t know what to do if they are assaulted by “sex offenders.” The Amish are also prone to holding church services in their own homes making the placement of sex offenders within 1,500 feet illegal. Because local police response times are slow in the area, residents may have “to take matters into their own hands if a dangerous situation should arise.”

    This has all of the makings of a bad Stephen King movie

  2. mike r

    Here is the true reasoning besides just the hate, revenge, and paranoid freaks,
    “The concerns center around (x this part out>>safety and) the potential negative impact on property values and the village’s ability to attract more residents and services.”
    And yeah, the Stephen King analogy is classic and on spot…

  3. Worried in Wisconsin

    This is a self-inflicted wound here in Wisconsin…

    The legislature passed the Chapter 980 (civil commitment) rules years ago without thinking things through. They passed the confinement/commitment laws, included public notification and publicity for every release, and then acted all surprised when the local communities were frantically upset. Just what were they expecting?

    When they discovered that they left an opening for people to eventually get released from custody, and communities were up in arms at the prospect of having to accept these ‘pervert predators’ back into their communities, the state legislature did what they always do – create more rules.

    The legislature knee-jerked and created tighter restrictions on where released Ch. 980 people could reside to keep people in local communities from revolting. Then the state found itself unable to find legally acceptable housing for people the courts had ordered released, and the courts continued pushing the state to do something. It was now the state that was having trouble complying with its own requirements. What to do? Let’s change the rules again.

    The state’s reaction was to push the whole thing back onto the counties’ shoulders. After all, the county prosecutors were typically the ones that initiated the confinement proceedings. Problem was, the counties had no more options for housing than the state had, and they have fewer resources to create a solution.

    The one advantage that I see in pushing this back to the counties is that there are now 72 counties working on this rather than just one state office. However, nothing in the process ever addressed the real problem – the legislation at the root of all this (Ch. 980) created a legal class of undesirables who nobody wants near them. Not even miles down the road. They someone continue to think that you can turn a person into a boogeyman and still have them welcomed into a community.

  4. Eric

    Just as the media has sold the public that all people on the registry are violent kidnapers they have also sold the public that all drug dealers are good people who just made a bad choice and were mistreated by the prejudiced justice system, and the public will welcome them into the community for their alternative sentencing and rehabilitation. I recall as a teacher I would have meetings with parents and they would break down and cry because they didn’t know what to do about their 14 year old daughter that was on meth and ran off with the 35 year old dealer. But the media has assured us that with a little TLC this situation can easily be resolved…but the person on the registry–forget it.

  5. Dustin

    Personally, I say if current residents really think it’s THAT dangerous for registrants to move in nearby, then they can move themselves. They have far more housing options than registrants do. Don’t think it’s right or moral to deny anyone a place to live that’s within their means, or sending/keeping them in prison just because they can’t afford to go somewhere else. And if the supposed danger is THAT great, then the inconvenience of moving themselves should be perfectly acceptable.

    Good luck finding a registrant-free neighborhood, considering most legislature’s affinity for creating more SO laws every session.

    • Eric

      …and good luck given the fact that the residency restriction laws are falling like dominos as judges are finding them unconstitutional, and that the public is becoming aware that most people on the registry are not a significant threat.

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