Local concerns spurred sex offender law review

Joe Leibham • 9th Senatorial District

Due to the concern and persistence of three residents of the 9th Senate District, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently concluded an audit of Wisconsin’s Supervised Release of Sex Offenders Program, focusing on Placements and Expenditures. The “supervised release” program is part of a process of civil commitment of individuals who are considered “sexually violent” individuals. The goal of supervised release and this civil commitment process generally is treatment. The constituents were concerned about the costs associated with the program and the seemingly lacking formal protocols and processes. Their research and inquiries prompted the audit and resulting recommendations.

The audit recommends several major improvements for the program to be completed by the Department of Health Services (DHS):

1. Establish written policies to guide the process used to identify potential residences for individuals authorized for supervised release and the factors that should be considered, including the location of the home of the individual’s victim, the cost of rent, and the situations in which a firm should be contacted about purchasing and renting a residence to DHS.

2. Contact the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Crime Victim Services or the relevant victim and witness coordinator before an individual is placed on supervised release to attempt to obtain contact information for the individual’s victim or the victim’s family.

3. Take steps to reduce the cost of housing individuals on supervised release, including attempting to identify additional firms willing to purchase and rent residences and attempting to negotiate leases stipulating that DHS will pay reduced monthly rental rates after the first year of the leases, and report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by April 1, 2014.

4. Take steps to reduce the cost of monitoring and transporting individuals on supervised release, including immediately beginning the process of issuing a request for proposals for monitoring and transportation services and developing written policies for determining the frequency of scheduled activities to approve, and report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by April 1, 2014, on its efforts to do so.

5. Report to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by April 1, 2014, on options for facilitating the discharge of individuals on supervised release who may no longer meet the statutory criteria for civil commitment but who are unwilling to file discharge petitions with circuit courts.

The entire audit can be reviewed at: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lab/reports/13-12full.pdf

I will work with DHS to implement the recommendations and other initiatives to make this necessary program cost effective and transparent.

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