Violent sex offender to move to Brown County, county officials to discuss options for offender’s home

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 5:59 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A violent sex offender, living in a secure treatment facility in Wisconsin, is about to be released and ordered to live somewhere in Brown County.

Where remains a big question.

It starts with homes for sale or rent.

That's where city and county planners begin looking when they find out a judge is ordering a violent sex offender be released from treatment and placed in their community.

These are not offenders being released from prison under Department of Corrections supervision.

Instead, these violent sex offenders have been in a treatment program at Sand Ridge, are supervised by the Department of Health Services, must abide by strict rules and are often unable to leave their homes without an escort.

A 2018 state law says the offenders need to live in the community where they committed crimes, but the responsibility on exactly where that is now lies with local officials.

Wednesday morning, Brown County’s officials, who make up the Supervised Release Committee, will meet for only the third time ever to discuss options for an offender being released from treatment soon.

They have 120 days to find housing or face fines.

“Then DHS will go ahead and enter into a lease with the landlord who owns the property, and they’ll come up with the actual supervised release plan and ask the court to actually place the individual there, so the committee is not placing anyone in a residence,” says Samantha Wagner, lead assistant corporation counsel for Brown County. “We’re just finding a possible residence that meets criteria.”

That criteria includes no children living next door, no victims of that offender living nearby, and no homes within 1,500 feet of schools, parks, daycares or places with lots of kids.

That narrows down options quickly, but we do know, in this case, Brown County looked at three homes in the Green Bay area.

Specific addresses are not public record yet.

“We try and mix up our homes between homes in the city and rural homes,” explains Wagner. “There’s some people who... this is part of what they do. DHS works with a lot of individuals who are landlords or supervised release individuals.”

No law enforcement are members of this committee, because of the way the law was written, but police are asked to conduct a study on the home and provide feedback on whether they think it's appropriate to house a sex offender.

Neighbors have little say, though the public is welcome to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

"If there was somebody there who thought there was a property for sale near their home or property that could be considered near their home, they're certainly welcome to come and voice their opinion one way or another," says Wagner.

Discussion about the offender happens behind closed doors, but a vote, if it happens, would come in open session.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. in room 200 of the Northern Building, located at 305 E. Walnut Street in downtown Green Bay.

The agenda says social distancing will be practiced and masks will be available.

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