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WI: WISCONSIN CAME CLOSE TO CHANGING A RULE THAT OFTEN LEAVES PEOPLE ON SEX OFFENSE REGISTRIES HOMELESS

Republicans are leading an effort to get rid of blanket restrictions on where some people with sex-offense records can live. A Democratic governor is blocking them. Full Article

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  1. Worried in Wisconsin

    This only would have applied to the handful of people each year that are released from the civil commitment under Chapter 980. It would not have helped the vast majority of registered persons in Wisconsin who are subject to the various residency restrictions in place all over the state. The proper response to the problem which the state govt created with the 980 program is to do away with it.

    If the state wants to help the rest of us registered persons, they could preempt the local restrictions. Of course, the last time they wanted to do that the plan was to create an even more onerous restriction that would have had no grandfather clause and only provided 90 days to move if in violation. And, the distance was set so far that nearly all the housing in towns & cities would have been off limits.

    Probably the most difficult to work around is the ‘original domicile’ rules, which state that if you were not living in the jurisdiction at the time of your offense/conviction you can’t move there later on. In other words, many are stuck where they are with no where to go. Not even if they find a place that meets all the other distance requirements.

    My community instituted a residency restriction based on distance. I was grandfathered in since I was here before the ordinance. However, since I was not a resident at the time of my offense/conviction, I would not be permitted to every move to another house in this town since that would constitute establishing a new residence.

    I also can’t move to the surrounding communities since they also have an ordinance with the ‘original domicile’ rule.

    Most ridiculous, is that the only jurisdiction in this corner of the state I could move to would be the town where I committed my offense, which is also the town where my victims lived/live. Meaning that the one place it makes no sense for me to go is the one where I am permitted, but then only if I can meet the absurd distance restrictions.

    • Cassandra

      I currently reside in Waukesha.
      My son was offered a place to live with another sex offender this past spring. DOC said he couldn’t live there because the sex offender density to child ratio would be to high, even though it is in compliance with the 750ft child safety zone.
      I asked DOC what I was supposed to do when trying to buy a house . I was told by DOC to write in my offer to purchase, “pending DOC approval”.
      Now not only do I have to find housing that complies with the child saftey zone, I have to contend with some arbitrary un written rule.

      My son as revoked at the end of May on a technicality. He will now be homeless when he is released this November.

      • Worried in Wisconsin

        Unfortunately, when someone is on parole/probation the agents have a huge amount of power to set rules, as long as they can lump them into one of many very broad categories.

        I was also supervised out of the Waukesha office, and as bad as it seems there I found that they were much more sane about how they implemented DOC guidelines than offices in surrounding counties. Believe it or not. The one thing that really helped me was to pre-plan everything I wanted to do very far in advance, and to never surprise my agent with anything. Attitude is everything when working with the DOC.

        I went through the same thing when we were buying our house – we luckily were able to submit locations for approval before making an offer since my agent was at least willing to approve/disapprove quickly. My impression was that the agents don’t want the people they’re supervising to be homeless either, as it creates a huge work load for them.

        My suggestion is to find a realtor that you can work with. Not one that works for a major corporate office, but a small-town individual realtor. Not just an agent either, but a realtor. Ask around at church or where you work for someone. You want to be able to discuss all this with him/her freely, so you need a person that understands and is willing to help. That realtor will be a huge help in you being able to find a place.

        My first place after prison was found after my attorney placed an ad in the real estate section of the newspaper which read something like, “Sex offender being released from prison seeks country home or apartment for rent.” He placed the ad with his office phone number so my family wouldn’t be subject to harassment, but there were no problems. It was an odd ad, and we knew that not many would respond. But, if someone had a place which was appropriate and needed rent maybe they would. I got lucky, and found that there are some landlords out there willing to look past the offense.

        Maybe we need to form a local support group so that advice and guidance could be offered to those trying to make it through supervision. And if not directly to those in the system, perhaps to their family members. There are ways to make this work and get through it.

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