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Municipalities deserve a seat at the table regarding offender placements

It’s a safe assumption that nobody is going to relish the prospect of having to live in close proximity to a convicted flagrant sex offender.

We’re talking here about those convicted of serious crimes — violent sex assaults, assaults of children, distributors and consumers of child pornography. Not the 19-year-old convicted and punished for underage relations with his minor teenage girlfriend.

Yet once serious offenders have served their time in prison state law allows that they can be placed in or near the community from which they came. Notification is made to the local county and then disseminated to the public, usually as the wheels are in motion for imminent placement.

Understandably, the notifications can cause alarm in a community, as they did in May when Salem Lakes officials learned in the 11th hour that two offenders were to be released to live in the Camp Lake area of the village.

Alerted by Village Administrator Mike Murdock, residents turned on en masse for public meetings. Village staff deftly determined that the placements were in violation of the village’s ordinance on placement as the residence selected was too close to a neighborhood park. Village officials went to Circuit Court and were able to block the placement of Dale H. Peshek and Brian T. Threlkeld.

Peshek, 48, was convicted in 1998 for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in 1997 and with child enticement involving the same boy in 1995. Threlkeld was convicted in 2000 for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy, and, according to past news reports, admitted to assaulting others.

That’s the conundrum that offenders who have done their time find themselves in. Most municipalities have ordinances limiting where the convicted offenders can live. It’s a difficult problem to resolve and we have no easy answers for it. Essentially these past offenders, who rightfully are required to be on the state’s registry and check in regularly with their probation agents, are branded with a scarlet letter of sorts for the duration they are ordered on the registry, which for many is for life.

No doubt some offenders learned their lessons while in prison and strive for a new start and to become part of society again. But the registry also serves the vital role of helping to protect the public, especially our children, sex crime victims and the vulnerable.

That’s why the Kenosha County Board’s recent action to give municipalities earlier notification of sex offender placements deserves praise. The communities affected deserve input on the placements and to divert potential conflicts with local ordinances. These officials may very well have suggestions on where paroled offenders can live without causing undue alarm in the community.

The board’s resolution was researched thoroughly by county Supervisor Erin Decker, whose district includes Wheatland, where a similar placement order caused alarm in 2016 and led to changes in state statutes on placements.

“Right now the municipalities are not given a heads-up that this is going to happen until after the placement has been ordered by the court,” Decker said. “When they are looking for a place, they need to work with the municipalities to make sure that place fits the state statutes and it’s a good placement.”

The measure was approved by the County Board 17-6 with supervisors Andy Berg, John O’Day, John Franco, David Celebre, Ron Frederick and Edward Kubicki dissenting.

Berg is very much correct in noting the difficulty the paroled offenders face in finding placement.

“I know that when people do the crime, they’ve got to do the time,” Berg said. “When they get done with their time, they have to come back into our community somehow.”

But that is an issue that has to be figured out by a broader analysis by criminal justice experts, the courts, mental health professionals, state lawmakers and yes, local officials.

And while some will say the county resolution will be commandeered by “Nimbys” (Not in my back yarders,) we look at it as a tool that will increase transparency and serve the interest of public safety.

– Kenosha News

16 comments

  1. Empirically validated risk assessments should be conducted for all people on the registry (not just using the offense) so that taxpayer money is used only on the high risk registrants.

    ALL research shows a relatively low re-offense rate after being caught and serving time in prison. There are some truly dangerous people who need to be closely monitored the rest of their lives, but there are hundreds of thousands of registrants in this country who are now law-abiding citizens but are never given a second chance because of the registry.

  2. The resulting hodgepodge of local laws increase homelessness and decreases public safety. The Wisconsin legislature should follow the lead of Kansas and pass a moratorium on all residency restrictions.

    Residency restriction laws have been proven ineffective, and they actually DECREASE public safety.

  3. Facts not opinions

    The registry would only protect the public IF there were repeat offenders snatching victims off the streets. A very low percentage of victims don’t know the offender. The registry affects not only the person listed but also spouse, kids, any other relatives living in the home. Because of opinions like this that are not based on research, the public registry allows anyone to find out where they live. This can lead to vigilantism, bullying the kids, or worse in some cases.

  4. This article seems to suggest the answer to sexual crime risk is better tracking and management of offenders after release. This may make sense for the first year or two, however, this can’t solve the problem because most sexual crimes (esp. against minors) are committed by people in close relational proximity to the victim. It seems to me a better approach would be education of children and parents to be wary of behaviors and not so much specific individuals. I can only memorize so many strange faces anyway!

  5. This article shouldn’t have been published here without proper research. If this research had been done, the writer and publisher would know that the recidivism rate for offenses committed this long ago absent a new offense, is practically identical to likely-hood of some other random person in the same community committing a sex offense. In that case, should not everyone in the community be placed on the sex registry lists in the interest of furthering safety as they are just as likely to commit such a crime as the cited individuals? Of course by operation of logic then everyone must be banned from these communities because they all might commit a sex crime. I mean, that is if public safety is the purpose of these rules and lists? Or are these rules and lists real purpose to punish, as many times as possible, anyone who has committed a sex crime?

  6. The Sex Offense Registries are truly idiotic social policy. They are not needed and not effective. That is trivial to prove. They obviously protect no one.

    But they aren’t merely worthless, they are a lot worse. They kill remorse, empathy, and compassion. They radicalize people. They drive an insane amount of escalating anti-social behavior. They are truly idiotic.

    If the Registries were useful, moral, or fair, then we would have created 100 more of them decades ago. But they aren’t.

  7. Today, this very day, the criminal regimes that run these Sex Offense Registries will release violent criminals from prison and those people will never be listed on any Registry if any sort. Simply because no sex was involved.

    Do not believe their lies that their Registries have anything to do with protecting people. It is actually quite easy to protect your children from sex crimes. Other crimes, not so much.

    The Registries exist to placate dumb, gossiping Karens and to pad the pockets of the carceral industry, including law enforcement. It allows them to pretend they are doing something about crime while doing very little actual work.

  8. Fac Speaks is wrong. The point of probation and parole is to closely monitor people. They can evaluate people. There is no legitimate reason or need to have Registries. Which is why they only exist for sex.

  9. According to studies, 95% are first time offenders and therefore, not on the registry. 90% will be known to the victim (family, friends, coaches, teachers, baby sitters) and not on the registry. Studies also show around 90% of those convicted never commit another crime that would put them on a registry.

    In a nutshell, the registry isn’t making anyone safer. If anything it is making people complacent and focused on the wrong group of people.

  10. Perhaps the authors and/or editors can demonstrate the registry’s “vital protection role” by discussing one single crime that was prevented by it or a criminal investigation where the registry provided information about a suspect that wasn’t available anywhere else.

  11. In 1997, at the age of 25, I had a very brief consensual relationship with a 17 year-old, which in Florida constituted a felony (F.S. 794.05(1): “Unlawful Sexual Activity with a 16 or 17 Year Old”). I was sentenced to probation, which I completed early. That was over 24 years ago. I am now almost 50. I had never been arrested before, and have not been arrested since. Please explain to me how treating me like a violent child rapist (which the State of Florida is essentially doing, since I have to follow most of the same requirements as they do) is making society any safer? How does piling unending, every increasing punishment without end on me protect anyone?

  12. The Associated Press is obviously not in tune with the latest research showing how ineffective, punitive and therefore unconstitutional these laws really are. I could write a book here, but since this is the ‘Law Journal’ I shouldn’t have to. I think we all agree by now that sex offender law are ‘problematic’ to say the least. Lady Justice is waiting for us to find the courage to rule these cases honestly. The State cannot systematically rob, yes even sex offenders, their constitutional rights long after their sentence has been served by inflicting untold shame, constant embarrassment and perpetuating wide spread social scorn that reaches internationally. Besides any rights, the sex offender registry and specifically the public notification that comes along with it, denies a person a quality of life. To deny otherwise is to deny justice.

  13. This article reprinted from the Kenosha News could be used in a college course on yellow journalism, and is based merely on conjecture and emotionalism. Not one substantiated fact regarding child or public safety was presented. Persons with prior sex offenses have been consistently found to be the least likely to reoffend, with the exception of murders.

    Two facts are most relevant. 93% to 95% will never commit another sex crime. About the same (study results vary somewhat) percentage of sex crimes against children are committed by family and others known by and close to the child. This means that children are in considerably more danger from those attending your backyard barbecue than from a former sex offender down the street.

    In June 2021, the American Law Institute (ALI) revised its Model Penal Code to include a section addressing sex crimes and the registry. I recommend at least perusing the section regarding sex offender registration. If that is too daunting, try the resource sections at the following organizations.

    National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws – https://narsol.org/
    Florida Action Committee – https://floridaactioncommittee.org/
    Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws – https://all4consolaws.org/
    Women Against Registry – https://ww1.womenagainstregistry.org/

    Journalism descends to mere fear mongering without the truth.

  14. Sex offenders claim that residency laws actually increase incidents of children being sexually abused. It’s a big lie. Sex offenders do not want residency restrictions so they can live by schools and act on their predator propensities.

  15. “Jerry Reaves” is an idiot and a liar. No predator has to live by a school in order to get victims. That doesn’t help at all and isn’t needed. There are actually hundreds of thousands of cases that prove that.

    The “restrictions” that scumbags like Karen Jerry want are nothing but harassment and an act of war. Anyone that supports that deserves punishment/consequences.

  16. Dear scumbag “Jerry Reaves”:

    How have you harassers failed to create Gun Offender Registries? Why do you want shooters to live by schools? Why do you want shooters in schools? I guess you don’t care about children after all.

    You Karens are just lying harassers.

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