Lawmaker drafting a bill to help sex offender placement
Lawmakers are working on separate bills to help sex offender placement in Milwaukee. Rep. Michael Schraa from Oshkosh is working on a bill that would change wording to take out "good cause" to move sex offenders away from the county they offended in. This comes from the case of Clint Rhymes, a violent sex offender who the Department of Health Services is trying to place. DHS couldn't find a place for him in Milwaukee County so they tried to move him to Eldorado, WI in Fond du Lac County. Residents there rallied against the move. After that, DHS withdrew the move. Now the case is back in a review process. Schraa says there needs to be a statewide policy.
Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski, who spearheaded the Milwaukee sex offender ordinance, supports statewide legislation. He doesn't think placing sex offenders in densely populated areas is a good idea. Zielinski thinks it wrecks the "social fabric" of communities. He thinks rural areas are a good idea if the offenders are put away from people living there too.
"They're not going to have the same level of disruption as if you put them in a densely populated area residential neighborhood where you've got lots of kids roaming around in front of the house around the house," Zielinski said. "You've got schools, parks, playgrounds, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and it's not fair."
"Something needs to be done," Rep. Schraa said. "These people have constitutional rights, these offenders have constitutional rights but we also have to blend that with the safety of our constituents."
Schraa also thinks using state-owned facilities like the old Ethan Allen Juvenile Center in Waukesha County could help.
"My thought is you open up something like this, the state already owns it, they're already paying utilities you could have these individuals actually integrate themselves into society. They'd be contributing, they'd reintegrate themselves."
Rep. Schraa hopes his bill will be drafted and considered in early 2016.