WI: Out of the Shadows: After leaving prison sex offenders face a maze of rules and restrictions

[kenoshanews.com – 11/30/20]

The list of potential restrictions is long and full of stumbling blocks.
“You shall not gain nor attempt to gain access to the internet without prior agent approval.”
“You shall not possess nor view any material that depicts any intimate parts of an adult.”
“You shall not establish, pursue, nor maintain any dating, romantic or sexual relationship without prior agent approval.”
“You shall not be present in any location frequented by minor children without prior agent approval.”

The rules can be so strict that advocates worry that the restrictions make it too difficult for people to find housing or jobs, and that the strict restrictions of supervision can turn accidental events or the smallest of transgressions into a monumental problem that leads back to prison.

“I think it’s literally impossible for people to follow the rules,” said defense attorney Denise Hertz-McGrath, saying anything from using a smartphone to accidentally coming across a slightly risqué advertisement could be a probation violation.

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We get to be humanized in this article.

“You can see both sides of it, but it’s a horrible way to live. Our sex offenders feel the weight of it.” – James Schatzman, executive director of the Racine Vocational Ministry.

And the comment left by a reader on that article states:
“No body cares there life should be living hell garbage deserve no respect”

Bet the reader just saw the title and did not even bother to read the article.
These types of comments show just how powerful the media is in misrepresenting the truth. Also, how little the general public is educated about the real issues.

Just as the article states: “Out of the Shadows…”

Ohhhh – Spooky!

Well spent college tuition by Ed Ar shown in his comment:

No body cares there life should be living hell garbage deserve no respect


A maze of rules and restrictions?? I’m not on paper.

Anonymous – Exactly! The same or similar rules and regulations apply to those long off paper, with families of their own, years offense free. Who authorizes this? When will they stop calling it “administrative”? It has never been administrative! The registry has to be abolished for those who are off paper! End of story.

Yeah basically the fight is against the image they sold to the (ignorant and easily swayed) public. It’s like a recurring theme these registry supporters seem to also be supporters of “democracy”, especially in Kalifornia where they practically ruined the state. It’s not easy going against the grain there.

Anyone who has been on parole in California since the Garrido case broke knows about the draconian conditions CDCR places on registrants. They are not unlike those listed in the article.

I was terrorized by my PO while on supervision. Many people with less support than I had probably end up with PTSD at the end of all of it. Being under SO supervision is like being under a “Sword of Damocles” of sorts the whole time, worrying individuals about the unexpected peril that could come at any moment to sweep them up and take them back to prison. Seems like Wisconsin was notorious for creating this kind of supervision environment.

While it is often claimed by these supervising agencies that one of their stated goals is to assist in the successful completion of supervision for those under their authority, the actual practice is just the opposite.

Anonymous, your comment, “While it is often claimed by these supervising agencies that one of their stated goals is to assist in the successful completion of supervision for those under their authority, the actual practice is just the opposite,” is spot on.

Recently, I had a meeting (via phone) with my parole agent and her supervisor. During the meeting, the supervisor questioned me why I was bothering to seek employment at a grocery store, when the minor stipulation I have would preclude that job being approved.

A week later, when my parole agent conducted the monthly home visit I questioned her about her supervisor’s response to me looking for a job at a grocery store. (I do have a minor stipulation; my crime involved a 17-year old female.) This was my parole agent’s response, “I know. I know. While you do have a minor stipulation, my supervisor doesn’t really understand your case. If you are offered the job at the grocery store, it will be approved. My supervisor doesn’t know the particulars of your case and she just figures that your minors condition means that you can’t be near anyone under 18 under any circumstances.”

So, the person (the supervisor) that was in charge of the meeting, and is in charge (regarding conditions) of my life “doesn’t really understand [my] case.” The person who is supposedly concerned with me progressing in and contributing to society, can’t even take the time to “understand” the particulars of my case. Most likely, she saw the “registry” box checked and determined that any further information was unnecessary. Score another one for the “One Size Fits All” Mentality.

Supervision in Wisconsin varies greatly from county to county. I think that my OCD helped me make it through 14 years on paper without a major incident, but I also had a much different situation than guys in the neighboring county I sat next to in our weekly group treatment sessions. Some of their POs had such strict interpretations of rules that they really couldn’t do anything without prior approval, where I was given a much larger degree of ‘freedom’ (not real freedom, just by comparison). Kenosha is one of those counties where it seemed that they really liked to really clamp down on guys and not cut any slack. Ever.

But, even in my case some of the rules were physically impossible to comply with, such as the one stating “You must permanently carry on your person a copy of your Rules of Community Supervision.” Exactly how did they expect me to follow this one…get a laminated copy to carry with me into the shower? I saw this as just something to catch you violating if they couldn’t find anything else. In one of my early meetings with my PO I was asked where the copy of my rules was – she thought she’d caught me since I didn’t walk in carrying a stack of paper. Thank God for the copy folded up and shoved in my wallet.

Others are so broadly written as to enable being taken in on a PO hold for nearly anything – one stated, “You shall avoid all conduct which is in violation of federal or state statute, municipal or county ordinances, tribal law or which is not in the best interest of the public welfare or your rehabilitation.”

It’s the last 14 words of this rule that enable a PO to pretty much write you up for anything that he/she wants. At one point I had a list of 60 rules, many of which were in direct contradiction to other instructions I had been given or which went against permissions I’d already received from my PO.

It’s been quite a while since I got off paper, but I’m sure that things have only gotten worse. The system is not set up to help guys make it through, and I can fully understand an earlier comment about PTSD. I lost a lot of sleep when things happened which went against my rules but were outside my control, and I am lucky that I was able to backup my explanation enough to get past those situations.

In the end I think that attitude is the key to making it. Lots of times I’d see other guys stewing and steaming as they waited for a meeting with their PO. I set my sights low – it was a good meeting if I was allowed to walk out the front door on my own and not out the back door in cuffs.

I feel for those who have a hard time on probation. I just got off of 2 yrs of probation a day ago. Luckily where I live the POs are overburdened with work and don’t have many resources (but 60 thousand dollar work vehicles). I was allowed to travel out of state for vacations and was told by PO they never let SO leave the state. I suspect it was because I had a well known lawyer and had my ducks in a row they let me go. Now that I’m off, I feel like the easy part is over. Traveling out of state and following the local laws, while knowing each states laws seems like a redonkulous feat. I live in a SORNA state. I do think if SORNA was to blanket all the states it would make traveling easier and take the power out of the local authorities hands to some extent. In my own interest I have called multiple jurisdictions in close proximity and gotten completely different answers to questions. Simply put the “civil / criminal investigator” employees don’t even know the laws. And they will tell you by saying so or by trying to act like tough guys to compensate for their lack of knowledge of their job. I think we worry more than anybody because we are at the mercy of a system that is a failed system that carries substantial punishment. Wouldn’t that make the registry punishment? Yes! If a math teacher in school doesn’t know math and all the kids fail class that is a failed system and the kids are punished by not passing go. Or in our situation ripped from the lives we work harder to build than most or put on Probation again and forced to start over. Only 13 more years to go …