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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town of Pound Concerned Over Sex Offender Placement

Issue Date: March 1, 2017

Numerous Town of Pound residents, including Town Chair Jerry Heroux, are upset about plans by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to move at least one, and possibly two, persons convicted of violent sex offenses against children into a residence at N2691 W. 7th Road.

Heroux said many residents of the neighborhood, as well as Town of Pound officials and Marinette County officials he contacted are opposed to the proposed placement because many families with small children have their homes nearby.

Heroux has placed discussion of this matter on the agenda for the Town Board meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, at which time a petition with over 120 signatures protesting the placement of child sex offenders on 7th Road will be presented.

One of the individuals expected to reside under supervision in the home is Jeffrey W. Butler, now 63, who was charged on May 16, 1995 with three Felony B counts of 1st degree sexual assault of a child, and one misdemeanor charge of exposing genitals to a child. Three of the counts were dismissed on motion of prosecuting attorney Joseph Klumb, and Butler was found guilty by Judge Charles D. Heath after pleading no contest to one of the 1st degree sexual assault of a child chargs. On Aug. 1, 1995, he was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

On May 13, 2005, after serving the 10-year sentence, he was assigned under a Sexually Violent Person Petition to serve time in a secure mental facility, and has been living at Sandridge Treatment Center in Mauston since. Previously he had been at Oshkosh Correctional Institute.

Now Butler is scheduled for a supervised release hearing at 2 p.m. Monday, May 1 before Judge James A. Morrison in Marinette County Circuit Court, Branch II.

Heroux said in response to concerns over a convicted child sex assault offender who has been ruled a sexually violent person moving into a family type neighborhood, he began doing some research.

He said it appears that the DHR has sole placement authority over offenders being placed on supervised release under provisions of Wisconsin Act 156, which was passed in 2016 following Assembly Bill 497 in 2015.

He said he contacted District Attorney Allen Brey, Sheriff Jerry Sauve and Julia Krause, a Wisconsin Probation Officer in Marinette County, and all of them expressed agreement with opposition to the placements.

He said Krause told him that authority in the case was out of her hands because the Department of Health has the power under Wisconsin Act 156. The town also has no control. This act also has a section (Section 14.980135) which states that "no county, city, town or village may enforce an ordinance or resolution that restricts or prohibits a sex offender from residing at a certain location or that restricts or prohibits a person from providing housing to a sex offender against an individual who is released under s.980.8".as long as the individual is subject to supervised release under this chapter."

Heroux was referred to Jason Cram of the DHS, who manages the supervised release program out of his office in Madison. Cram told him the proposed residence site meets the criteria, especially as there is a small segment of wooded property between the residence and the nearest residence with children, which means that the property with the young children is not adjacent to the residence considered. "The fact that there are numerous children on the road did not seem to affect the judgement of Mr. Cram, who indicated that Angela Serwa had investigated the site, that a vendor had recommended this site to them, and that they would proceed with the potential placements," Heroux said, adding that Cram "commented that he understood that we are on different sides of the aisle" on this issue, but told him Act 156 gives him legal authority to proceed.

Heroux said he also contacted Sheriff Sauve, "who indicated his frustration having been placed in the middle, sympathetic with residents but legally bound to cooperate with Madison. He said Sheriff Sauve also indicated that there would be two individuals potentially placed at the residence, and "did agree that before such placement, his department would sponsor a public hearing and that his department would to their best to monitor the individuals after the potential placements."

The home at 72691 S. 7th Road where Butler and the second person are expected to reside had been listed for sale by Charity Bayer Real Estate of Green Bay for an advertised price of $109,900. Heroux said it has not been confirmed, but he was told there now is an accepted purchase offer.

Meanwhile, the Zeitlers, whose property is next door, have told neighbors they will probably sell their home and move away to keep their children safe.

Heroux also contacted State Senator Dave Hansen and Representative John Nygren. He said Sen. Hansen responded that Assembly Bill 497 and Act 156 were passed against his wishes, that he voted against the act and that all Republican representatives had voted for the Assembly bill, while Rep. Nygren did not respond.

Heroux said he has placed discussion of the matter on the agenda for the Town Board meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, and is contacting the Wisconsin Towns Association and town legal counsel for advice. He expects the petition with 120 signatures will be presented to the town board at the March 14 meeting. Copies of the petition will be forwarded to the person in charge of placement of the two individuals: Jason M. Cram, Supervised Release Program Manager, Bureau of Community Forensic Services, MMHI-Building 14, 301 Troy Drive, Madison, Wi. 53704. Phone is 608-240-8810, and e-mail is Jason.Cram@Wisconsin.Gov.

In a letter to C. Zeitler, owner of the property closest to the proposed new home of the sex offenders, Cram said he had been contacted by Sheriff Sauve for response to their concerns.

He said the supervised release program is responsible for the control, care, and treatment of civilly committed sex offenders who are granted permission by their committing court to reside in the community under specific conditions.

"Currently in Wisconsin there are approximately 50 clients residing in the community on Supervised Release and another 30 clients awaiting placement. The majority of the clients living in the community reside in stand-alone residences either alone or with another client on Supervised Release," Cram said.

When identifying placements for clients, the Supervised Release program must adhere to State Statute (980.08(4)(f) in regards to proximity of schools, childcare facilities, parks, places of worship, and youth centers. Additionally, if the client(s) being considered for placement is statutorily defined as a serious child sex offender, additional consideration must be given to the proximity of children on adjacent properties. The methods of determining if the residence meets statutory criteria include a detailed review of the area using county GIS data and mapping, on-line data bases, and requested assessments from both the Sheriff's Department and the Department of Corrections.

"Sheriff Sauve forwarded us your concern and stated that he too shares and understands your concerns," Cram wrote. "I too understand your concern and I know that if the placement proceeds there would very little that could be said to allay these concerns. I would like to briefly describe the process we use to determine the viability of a residence and the tools we use to manage clients on Supervised release in the community."

He went on to explain that clients on Supervised Release are highly monitored and supervised. They will wear a GPs tracking device, will be randomly checked on by a contracted monitor, must be chaperoned by a contracted provider whenever they leave their residence in the first year of placement, participate in Sex Offender Treatment, are assigned a case manager, and will be periodically polygraphed. They are supervised by a Probation and Parole Agent. "These safeguards are not a guarantee," Cram continued, "however they have proven to be effective tools in providing for the control, care and treatment of clients on supervised release."

Cram said DHS is awaiting Department of Corrections assessment of the proposed residence, and although the Sheriff's report expresses concern, it does not indicate that the proposed residence would be in violation of the state statute. He said after receiving their concerns he reviewed the work performed by his staff member Angela Seward and determined that since there are two defined parcels between the Zeitler residence and the proposed residence, so they are not adjacent. The houses are approximately 1,125 feet from each other, and unless the DOC assessment identifies legal barriers DHS was unaware of, the residence will meet the statutory criteria.

If there are no legal barriers, DHS will inform the vendor who proposed this property to them that it is viable and he would likely proceed with attempting to purchase the property. If purchase is successful, DHS will enter into a lease agreement with the vendor, and submit a plan to the committing court. The court will review the plan or plans, possibly take testimony from the DHS, and then likely order placement within 30 days of the plan being approved.

"The process is lengthy and can be terminated at any juncture if there are legal barriers to proceeding"we are at the middle stage of the process," Cram wrote. He added that the goals of the Supervised Release program are community safety and reintegration, and DHS must make every effort to fulfill court orders to place clients on Supervised Release according to the statutory defined criteria and process.

In his response to Heroux, Hansen explained AB 497 was introduced by Rep. Mark Born in 2015 to address a court ruling made in Milwaukee with respect to the placement of a Chapter 980 offender, and said that offenders in that program are considered to be sexually violent offenders who are civilly committed to confined treatment beyond their prison sentence under an earlier law that he worked to pass with Sen. Alberta Darling. He opposed AB 497 and Wisconsin Act 156 which passed in 2016.

He attached an explanation of he provisions of AB497, which includes provisions that no sexually violent person can generally be placed in a residence within 1,500 feet of any school, child care facility, youth center, place of worship or public park, and if the offense was against a child they cannot be placed in a property adjacent to one where a child resides. If the offense was against an elderly or disabled person the offender may not be placed in a residence within 1,500 feet of a nursing home or other assisted living facility, and if the properties are adjacent, an offender cannot be placed in a residence that is less than 1,500 feet from the living quarters that are a child's primary residence.

In the case of the 7th Road property in the Town of Pound, the houses are only 1,125 feet from each other, but the properties are not adjacent and do not share a common property line.


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