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posted Nov 3, 2017, 8:41 AM by Lara K   [ updated Nov 3, 2017, 8:42 AM ]

Collateral Damage - Study by the NACDL

posted Aug 5, 2014, 12:16 PM by Phoenix Rayne

The Study that can also be found in our Reference Library on this site.

Executive Summary

Collateral damage occurs in any war, including America’s “War on Crime.” Ironically, our zealous efforts to keep communities safe may have actually destabilized and divided them. The vast expansion of the nation’s criminal
justice system over the past 40 years has produced a corresponding increase in the number of people with a criminal record. One recent study estimated that 65 million people — one in four adults in the United States — have a criminal record.2At the same time, the collateral consequences of conviction — specific legal restrictions, generalized discrimination and social stigma — have become more severe, more public and more permanent. These consequences affect virtually every aspect of human endeavor, including employment and licensing, housing, education, public benefits, credit and loans, immigration status, parental rights, interstate travel, and even volunteer opportunities. Collateral consequences can be a criminal defendant’s most serious punishment, permanently relegating a person to second-class status.

The obsession with background checking in recent years has made it all but impossible for a person with a criminal record to leave the past behind. An arrest alone can lead to permanent loss of opportunity. The primary legal mechanisms historically relied on to restore rights and status — executive pardon and judicial expungement — have atrophied or become less effective.

It is time to reverse this course. It is time to recognize that America’s infatuation with collateral consequences has produced unprecedented and unnecessary collateral damage to society and to the justice system. It is time to celebrate the magnificent human potential for growth and redemption. It is time to move from the era of collateral consequences to the era of restoration of rights and status.

NACDL recommends a broad national initiative to construct a legal infrastructure that will provide individuals with a criminal record with a clear path to equal opportunity. The principle that individuals have paid their debt to society when they have completed their court-imposed sentence should guide this initiative. At its core, this initiative must recognize that individuals who pay their debt are entitled to have their legal and social status fully restored.

Until recently, defense lawyers have not regarded avoiding and mitigating collateral consequences as part of their responsibility to the client. This has changed, in part because of court decisions recognizing collateral consequences as an integral part of the criminal case, and in part because of the increasing social and economic significance of collateral consequences themselves. As a result, in 2011 NACDL established a Task Force on Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction to inquire into how existing restoration mechanisms are actually functioning and to determine how they can be improved. The Task Force conducted extensive hearings in six different major American cities in five distinct regions of the country over more than two years and took testimony from more than 150 witnesses. The result is this report and the following comprehensive recommendations for reform.

WI Dept of Corrections requests more money and staff

posted May 14, 2013, 10:05 AM by Lara K

Link to the Budget Request document

Facts from the article:
    There will be over 1000 people on the GPS system in the next 18-24 months, growing steadily every year.
    The Department of Corrections has about 10,300 employees with a budget of $1.28 billion a year.
    There are currently 22,000 people incarcerated in Wisconsin.

This is good, it is about time that the taxpayers of Wisconsin know how their money is being spent in the largest spending department in the state.  Currently there is no public documentation that is easily attained to show how, where and what for the money that is used for GPS monitoring.

Federal Ruling Could Change Restrictions for Oklahoma SO's

posted May 13, 2013, 7:42 AM by Lara K

5-13-2013 Oklahoma:

A recent ruling in Federal Court could change the way sex offenders are punished. The May 8th ruling decided in favor of the defendant, Charles Goodwin, who was convicted back in 1994 of lewd acts in Illinois.

Goodwin challenged his probationary restrictions that barred him from internet use and won, "He was saying, I shouldn't have to do all of these things," Fox 25 Legal analyst David Slane said. "I think it's the first step in what may be a trend," added Slane.

Right now sex offenders are often given blanket restrictions and rules on where they can live, work and spend time. Slane believes this may soon change, so that the punishment will fit the crime, "If a sex offender did not do something related to the internet for example, you're probably not going to be able to restrict his access to the internet," Slane added, "The courts seem to be saying, in the future, there needs to be a connection between the two, or they are not going to be able to restrict his (or her) access." Slane said this is only applies in federal cases, but unless the Supreme court overturns it, it may soon spread to lower courts. ..Source.. by Mark Taylor
Fox 25 News

Methods for housing and tracking offenders under scrutiny

posted Mar 27, 2013, 1:06 PM by Lara K

Methods for housing, tracking sex offenders under scrutiny

State legislators are looking for ways to save money by improving Wisconsin’s system for housing and monitoring released sex offenders.

By: By Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram   

State legislators are looking for ways to save money by improving Wisconsin’s system for housing and monitoring released sex offenders.

The joint legislative audit committee plans to investigate the cost of housing released sex offenders and tracking their whereabouts. The audit will also assess the effectiveness of the community notification system that alerts citizens that a sex offender is moving in to a neighborhood.

Don Mogenson of Manitowoc told the committee that in his community, the state is paying exorbitant rent to house offenders and doing a poor job of alerting the public about changes in an offender’s supervision status. He suggested the state put offenders on a farm where they can earn their way back into society: “We need to get these people into a productive life. Then maybe they can make a life for themselves. Walking around and having somebody watch them is not a way to make them productive.”

But the committee chair, Representative Samantha Kerkman, says even rural residents have a “not in my backyard” attitude about having sex offenders as neighbors: “When we have those discussions, even in my rural district, about placement … Even if they're in the middle of a cornfield in a farm, nobody wants them there either.”

Senator Kathleen Vinehout says she hopes the audit will produce solutions that previous legislatures have failed to come up with.

“We have a lot of legislators over the years that have been very concerned about sex offenders and we've added laws on top of laws to try and deal with the problems; but maybe this is a good time for us to look into it in detail and see if we're getting our money's worth.”

The Department of Corrections has asked for a $2 million increase in sex offender program funding over the next two years.

Lost signals, disconnected lives: Offenders raise concerns over reliability of GPS monitoring

posted Mar 24, 2013, 3:16 PM by Lara K   [ updated Mar 24, 2013, 3:19 PM ]

Aaron Hicks displays his one-piece GPS tracking unit as his wife, Michelle, looks on. Hicks says tracking unit malfunctions and repeated jail stays have strained family bonds. 'If you're trying to move on with your life, and you've got these barriers, you just want to give up,' he says.
Aaron Hicks displays his one-piece GPS tracking unit as his wife, Michelle, looks on. Hicks says tracking unit malfunctions and repeated jail stays have strained family bonds. 'If you're trying to move on with your life, and you've got these barriers, you just want to give up,' he says. / Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative

James Morgan and Aaron Hicks were convicted of violent sex crimes and served many years in prison.

Now they are on parole, living in Madison neighborhoods, attending treatment groups and wearing global positioning system (GPS) ankle monitors — tracking that, under Wisconsin law, will continue for the rest of their lives.

But Morgan, Hicks and 11 other offenders interviewed for this report say that Wisconsin’s GPS tracking system repeatedly fails, registering false alerts and landing the offenders in jail although they have done nothing wrong.

“There are times when I’m afraid to leave whatever room I’m in, even to go to the bathroom,” said Morgan, 53, who served 26 years in prison for sexual assault and other crimes.

“I’m afraid an alert will go off and the police will show up at my door.”

On July 31, Morgan stood in his Madison bedroom with a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism photographer. On several occasions, his GPS monitor began flashing, indicating he was out of range, even though Morgan was in his own home and well within boundaries determined by his parole agent.

Offenders and their advocates say GPS breakdowns waste taxpayers’ money with unnecessary police work and lockups, and hamper offenders’ efforts to restore relationships with their families and retain jobs.

Even the people who make the GPS technology acknowledge that signals can be lost due to weather conditions, tall buildings and car travel.

A key legislator, the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corrections, said he was unaware of any problems with the state’s GPS monitoring system. But he was concerned by the Center’s findings, and said that an audit may be in order.

“Yes, I think it would be proper to inquire about the accuracy and effectiveness of our monitoring system if offenders are indeed experiencing these problems,” said state Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay.

But Bies, a former Door County sheriff’s deputy, added, “I really don’t have a whole lot of sympathy” for sexual offenders and whatever “inconvenience” they may have to endure.

As of February, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections was using GPS technology to track 638 offenders. According to DOC spokeswoman Jackie Guthrie, “The majority are sex offenders with a very small number being offenders convicted of domestic violence or other violent crimes.” She was unable to provide a breakdown.

And GPS monitoring in Wisconsin is projected to expand by nearly 50 percent over the next two years.

A Wisconsin state law passed last April, set to take full effect in 2014, allows judges to require GPS tracking for offenders who violate a domestic abuse or harassment temporary restraining order or injunction.

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget recommends $10 million in new funding for expanded use of GPS tracking in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 — to monitor 783 individuals the first year and 939 the second year.

'Nothing's perfect'

Significant concerns about the reliability of GPS tracking have arisen in at least seven other states. The technology has been found both to sound alerts in error and miss offenders’ transgressions when they do occur.

Last September, an audit in Tennessee revealed massive oversights in the state’s GPS offender tracking system. More than 80 percent of alerts from GPS-monitored offenders “were not cleared or confirmed” by corrections agents, including alerts triggered after individuals appeared to enter prohibited areas such as parks and schools.

The Wisconsin DOC insists its system, and the devices it leases from Colorado-based Behavioral Interventions, or BI, are reliable.

“We are not aware of any ‘problems’ with our GPS monitoring system, and have several protocols in place to ensure that the integrity of our system is maintained,” Guthrie wrote in an email.

BI spokeswoman Monica Hook maintained that GPS technology is “a reliable alternative to incarceration” and that millions of people have worn the devices over the years.

Yet, she conceded, “it’s a manmade device. There are certain things that we safeguard against, but nothing’s perfect.” She said the Wisconsin DOC has “discretion” to determine how to handle alerts.

The DOC rejected the Center’s request for records regarding its protocols for dealing with dropped signals or false GPS alerts, saying offenders could use this information to “defeat the monitoring device.”

Guthrie said the agency does not keep statistics on how many alerts are triggered for GPS offenders, and does not track how often these result in offenders being incarcerated.

The DOC, she said, also has not conducted audits or quality reviews of its GPS program, which began operating in 2007.

Tracked offenders wear anklets at all times. Those with older, two-piece models must carry a portable GPS device that communicates with satellites and sends data to a central monitoring center in Madison. One-piece models include this device in the anklet. The DOC says the two-piece models are being phased out.

If an offender crosses into a restricted “exclusion zone,” an alert is sent to the monitoring center, which can investigate the problem. “One of the outcomes,” Guthrie said, “could be an apprehension or arrest.”

'You just want to give up'

In all, the Center interviewed a dozen sex offenders, and one person convicted of stalking, who complained of problems with their tracking units.

Sam Bratsven, convicted in 2001 of sexual assault of a child in Winnebago County, says challenges with his GPS unit have cost him jobs. In one of several discrimination complaints with the state Division of Equal Rights, he even has evidence.

In response to one such complaint, filed in 2011, an attorney for a company that chose not to hire Bratsven for a particular job noted that his two-hour application process was disrupted four to six times by his GPS device. The attorney said this “indicate(d) a high level of potential for disruption in any assignment where the applicant could be placed.”

His attorney, Andrew Phillips, said the case was settled out of court to the “satisfaction of both parties.”

Matthew Becker, convicted of sexual assaults in 2005 and 2007 in Winnebago County, estimates he has been jailed six times due to problems with his GPS equipment and that he has lost “thousands of dollars” in missed work.

The Center was able to obtain some records on GPS alerts for individual offenders. They show that Morgan and Hicks triggered multiple alerts for “No GPS,” indicating their locations could not be tracked by satellite. In May alone, Hicks triggered 206 “No GPS” alerts.

Records show Morgan has been booked into Dane County Jail at least eight times since June 2011, serving a total of 29 days in jail, all for violations related to his GPS tracker.

In each of these cases, Morgan argues the violations occurred because of an innocent mistake, as when he went for a bike ride without bringing along a hand-held device, or despite the fact that he was complying with the rules.

For instance, on Sept. 19, Morgan was jailed for four days because “he failed to have a GPS signal” for much of a two-hour period. Morgan said he was attending an approved University of Wisconsin-Madison class. His English professor, Emily Auerbach, backs him up. “I know exactly where he was” during the time in question, she said.

Hicks, 39, served 12 years for having intercourse with an unconscious woman. Records show he has been booked into jail at least a dozen times since April 2011 for violations related to his GPS monitor, spending a total of 74 days behind bars.

Hicks admits he forgot to bring his hand-held GPS tracker with him on two occasions. He left it in his car when he entered a supermarket and left it on a bus when traveling to work. But the other violations, he says, were over lost signals and false alerts.

On June 12, 2012, according to records obtained by his attorney, Hicks was at his wife’s house, an approved location. He said he left his tracker in an adjacent room, as he had done before without triggering alerts, while he watched a basketball game on television and did not hear it beep. He served a total of 51 days in jail, until after he signed an agreement admitting he “did fail to comply with the rules and conditions of GPS monitoring.”

“It’s almost like taking on a new normal,” Hicks said in an interview from the Dane County Jail in June, while jailed on this violation. “If you’re trying to move on with your life, and you’ve got these barriers, you just want to give up.”

Hicks’ attorney, Jessa Nicholson, thinks her client has done his best to reintegrate but has been unfairly punished: “I’ve spoken with his therapist, and she assessed him as posing no threat whatsoever.”

'Unworthy of life'

Now Hicks works at Voices Beyond Bars, a Madison nonprofit that assists former inmates. He said he does well at Madison Area Technical College, where he attends classes. But last year, he missed a final essay for one class because he was back in jail on a GPS violation. His grades suffered, and he was placed on academic probation.

Morgan, when not back in jail, lives with his elderly aunt on Madison’s north side. He paints, often giving his work away to Madison charities. He still takes a one-credit class at UW-Madison and works construction jobs part time.

And while Morgan acknowledges that his past actions have caused pain and deserve punishment, he thinks being on GPS monitoring conveys that he is “unworthy of life.” He said he hopes and prays “that I’m able to continue to withstand this.”

Meetings more rare when sex offenders released

posted Mar 20, 2013, 9:21 AM by Lara K

By Jessica Hamilton/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram   

Community notification of sex offenders moving into a neighborhood have become so commonplace that police are scheduling fewer community meetings.

It’s the police chief’s call whether or not to have level three notification sex offender meetings. Superior Deputy Chief Matt Markon says they don’t make the decision alone.

“We make a decision on whether to have a community meeting with a group of people that includes law enforcement, the local probation and parole office and the sex offender specialist out of Spooner. That group meets monthly at least to look at who is being released and what sort of notification needs to be done.”

The notification levels range from level 1, which would be law enforcement only to 3-plus. Three-plus would also include schools, daycares and health facilities in the area, plus a community meeting.

Sex Offender Registry Specialist Amy Jain in Spooner covers 11 counties and some, like Douglas, have what she calls TLPs or transitional living placement.

She says in areas like these, people are getting used to notifications that sex offenders will be living in their communities.

“We’ve had meetings where registrants are released to a TLP in Superior and about two people show up. Because they are so used to sex offenders or SPNs being released into those homes that most often those community members have already been to those meetings but they still do put a notification in the paper when there is a release.”

Markon says the last community notification meeting held in Superior was Aug. 14.

Jain says attendance at some of these meetings isn’t necessarily lower because people don’t care, just that some residents are already familiar with meetings held in their neighborhood.

“I think for example in Douglas County, people aren’t showing up when registrants are being released to the TLP because they have already heard it all,” Jain said. “However, we had another one in Douglas County where 40 people showed up because the registrant was being released to a part of Superior where they weren’t used to sex offenders being released. I think it depends on the conviction but it’s hard to say, it just depends on what the community is used to.”

There are 106 non-incarcerated offenders in Douglas County, 47 of which are on supervision, and eight repeat offenders.

Good Judgement Prevails

posted Mar 1, 2013, 9:28 AM by Lara K

3/1/2013 8:29:00 AM
Sex offender residency exemptions granted
By Lydia Statz
Union staff writer

JEFFERSON - The City of Jefferson granted two exemptions to its new Sex Offender Residency Ordinance Thursday.

John Sampe and Daniel Mc­William appeared before the new Sex Offender Residence Board at the Jefferson Police Department to appeal a denial of residency based on an ordinance passed in December that forbids registered sex offenders from residing within 1,500 feet of schools or other areas where children congregate.

The board granted both men an exemption to the ordinance, allowing them to relocate only to the specific address indicated in the appeal. Sampe will reside at 502 S. Center Ave., while Mc­William will live at 216 E. Milwaukee St.

Jefferson's ordinance was modeled after those already in affect in other cities. It prevents a registered sex offender from establishing a temporary or permanent residents within 1,500 feet of private or public schools; public parks, parkways or parkland; recreational trails; public play grounds; the public library; athletic fields used by children; licensed daycare centers; specialized schools for children, including but not limited to gymnastics academies, dance academies or music schools; and children's group homes or foster homes.

Several exceptions already are written into the ordinance to allow for an offender confined to a jail within the prohibited area, an offender who established residence in the area before the ordinance went into effect, or if the gathering place opened after the offender established residence.

Sampe and McWilliam filed the appeals last week, claiming they did not present a danger to the public and that the ordinance prevents them from settling down with their families.

Speaking to the board, Sampe presented his criminal history, including the 1994 second-degree sexual assault that placed him on the state's registered sex offender list, and made his case for an allowance to live within a restricted area.

"It was not my choice to return to this county," Sampe said. "I have family up north, but I was court-ordered here."

"All I have ever wanted is not to be judged by my record, but my contribution to this family," Sampe continued.

He is a father of one and stepfather to two children with his fiancee.

"With your blessing, I will be able to raise my family in this wonderful community," he added.

Sampe's family and friends, including his fiancée Victoria Liss, spoke in testament to his character and questioned the applicability of the ordinance.

"This ordinance is to protect the health and safety of children, but he is not a pedophile," said Liss.

Concerns were raised during the public comment portion of the hearing about a discrepancy between the history Sampe presented and the notification that was sent to the neighborhood to which Sampe will relocate.

It was determined that concern regarded a juvenile case and could not be discussed in an open meeting.

Sampe's exemption was granted by a unanimous vote of the board, and he was given legal permission to reside at 502 Center Avenue immediately.

Daniel McWilliam then addressed the board in regard to his appeal. He appears on the sex offender registry following a second-degree sexual assault of a child.

McWilliam, now 32, was 18 when he was convicted of sexual contact with his girlfriend, whom he said he thought was 17, but who turned out to be 15.

He served 10 years in prison following that crime.

"I have kept up on my registration, never failed to register once," said McWilliam.

McWilliam is employed at Master Mold in Johnson Creek, is married, and has two children.

"If I am refused to live at 216 E. Milwaukee, it's tearing a family apart," he said. "I don't want any problems with any police officer in Jefferson."

Concerns about children in the neighborhood were raised by Cathy Radtke and Jody Lindemoen, who reside in the area and were notified of McWilliam's presence via mailing by the Jefferson Police Department.

"There are a lot of kids that walk there," said Radtke. "I realize that he's done his debt to society, but I just want to be sure that our little corner of the world is safe."

"Milwaukee Avenue is the walking bridge," said Lindemoen. "All of the kids from West, and the middle school to the high school, use Milwaukee Avenue. It's highly, highly, used. I think that they should find somewhere else."

Sarah McWilliam, Daniel's sister, provided a character witness for the board.

"Dan served 10 years in prison. He had time to think about it," she said. "Since then, he hasn't had any trouble. He's done everything right since then. I think that's he's grown up a lot."

The board granted Mc­William's exemption unanimously, and he is permitted to reside at 216 E. Milwaukee Ave. effective immediately.

The Sampe and McWilliam appeals were the first filed under the appeal process defined by the Jefferson Sex Offender Residency Ordinance.

The Sex Offender Residence Board meets the final Thursday of every month to hear any filed appeals.

DNA Collected During Arrest and the Fourth Amendment

posted Feb 28, 2013, 8:05 AM by Lara K

Justices Wrestle Over Allowing DNA Sampling at Time of Arrest

Published: February 26, 2013
WASHINGTON — About halfway through a Supreme Court argument on Tuesday over whether the police may take DNA samples from people they arrest, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. reflected on just how momentous the issue was.    

 “I think this is perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades,” he said, adding: “This is what is at stake: Lots of murders, lots of rapes that can be solved using this new technology that involves a very minimal intrusion on personal privacy.”

“Why isn’t this the fingerprinting of the 21st century?” he asked.

But the value of such evidence to law enforcement was only one side of the equation, Justice Antonin Scalia said after hearing that Maryland had obtained 42 convictions based on DNA from people arrested there.

“Well, that’s really good,” Justice Scalia said. “I’ll bet you if you conducted a lot of unreasonable searches and seizures, you’d get more convictions, too. That proves absolutely nothing.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to agree that the practice may run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, which generally requires a warrant or individualized suspicion before police may conduct a search. “This is a very reliable tool,” she said, “but it’s not based on any kind of suspicion of the individual who’s being subjected to it.”

The case arose from the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md. His DNA profile, obtained by swabbing his cheek, matched evidence from a 2003 rape, and he was convicted of that crime. Last April, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that a state law authorizing DNA collection from people arrested but not yet convicted violated the Fourth Amendment.

In July, before the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued a stay of the lower court decision, saying that collecting DNA from people accused of serious crimes is “an important feature of day-to-day law enforcement practice in approximately half the states and the federal government.”

Collecting DNA from people convicted of crimes was not at issue in the case argued Tuesday, Maryland v. King, No. 12-207. The question was, rather, whether the Fourth Amendment allowed collecting it from people who have merely been arrested and so are presumed innocent.

The chief justice seemed wary of going too far, too fast. The Maryland law, he said, is limited to people arrested for serious crimes. But other laws are broader, and the state’s argument did not have an obvious stopping point.

“Under your theory, there’s no reason you couldn’t undertake this procedure with respect to anybody pulled over for a traffic violation?” Chief Justice Roberts asked Katherine Winfree, the state’s chief deputy attorney general. She said drivers might have a reasonable expectation of privacy that people arrested for serious crimes do not.

She added that people under arrest lose an array of rights. Last year, the court ruled that they may be subjected to strip searches if admitted to a jail’s general population.

Justice Elena Kagan said there must be limits, saying an arrest would not justify the search of an individual’s home for possible evidence of an unrelated crime. She added that under the state’s theory, the law enforcement interest in solving crimes could be used to justify obtaining a DNA sample in many settings.

“Why don’t we do this for everybody who comes in for a driver’s license because it’s very effective?” she asked, rhetorically.

Chief Justice Roberts wondered whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in genetic material that may be easy to obtain in other ways. “You disclose all of this intimate private information,” he said, “when you take a drink of water and leave the glass behind.”

Much of the argument concerned whether DNA is like fingerprint evidence. Kannon K. Shanmugam, a lawyer for Mr. King, said the two were different, as fingerprints are generally used to identify suspects. DNA, on the other hand, he said, is used for a purpose unrelated to the arrest: to solve cold cases, he said.

Several justices seemed interested in a third way DNA could be used: to assist judges in making bail determinations. For now, they were told, turnaround times are too long to make that practicable.

But Michael R. Dreeben, a lawyer for the federal government, which supported Maryland, said the day would soon arrive when DNA could be analyzed in 90 minutes. Ms. Winfree agreed. “This is not science fiction,” she said. “We are very, very close to that.”

Chief Justice Roberts said that left the court in a difficult position. “How can I base a decision today on what you tell me is going to happen in two years?” he asked.

For now, Justice Scalia said, the law’s purpose is “to catch the bad guys, which is a good thing.” But, he added, “the Fourth Amendment sometimes stands in the way.”        

This is what Registry Restrictions Do to Families

posted Feb 28, 2013, 7:54 AM by Lara K

2/27/2013 9:22:00 AM
Sex offenders seek residency restriction exemptions
By Pam Chickering Wilson
Union staff writer

JEFFERSON - When the average person visualizes a registered sex offender, an image comes to mind of a pedophile, an older man who's attracted to elementary school-age children and who deviously works to set up opportunities to prey on youngsters.

No one wants that person living next door, or across the street from a school.

But what of an 18-year-old who impregnates his 15-year-old girlfriend or a high school senior in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy? What of a 17-year-old who, at a party rife with illicit drugs and alcohol, gropes a younger peer in a non-consensual, sexual manner?

All of these acts are illegal and those convicted of perpetrating them are required to register as sex offenders.

But is a teen offender, now grown, still a threat to youngsters in the community?

It depends on the case, say two registered sex offenders who are seeking exceptions from residency regulations recently passed by the City of Jefferson.

Both men assert that they pose no danger to local children, but that this regulation does threaten their ability to maintain a job, to settle down with their own families, and to grow past a sometimes rocky past.

Daniel McWilliams was living in the Hilltop Hotel when he was given 10 days to get out, as a new Jefferson ordinance would no longer permit him to stay there. For the time being, he said, he has moved in with his mother-in-law.

McWilliams, now 32, was 18 when he was convicted of sexual contact with his girlfriend, whom he said he thought was 17, but who turned out to be 15.

"She had an ID that said she was 17. I thought, 'no big deal,'" McWilliams said.

McWilliams, who had been in trouble with the law for unrelated matters, immediately got arrested again and since then has been classified as a sex offender.

Fourteen years later, he said, he has a good job at Master Mold in Johnson Creek and he is trying to build a life for himself.

"Nobody has really cared about my record - this is the first major problem I've had with my record," he said.

John Sampe, another offender who is seeking an exemption from the Jefferson residency restriction, initially was grandfathered in so he could continue to reside at his current address, but he ran into difficulty when he sought to move to a larger house that would better accommodate his family.

Sampe, now 36, said he was 17 when he committed a second-degree sexual assault on a friend who was 14. There was no intercourse involved, but, according to the court reports published at the time, he grabbed her from behind, rubbed his genitals against her and threw her down, groping and fondling her.

He also was accused of making lewd calls from the jail.

Sampe said he initially was charged as a juvenile and was sentenced to the Ethan Allen School for Boys in Wales. He stayed there a couple of months and then the sexually violent predator law was passed.

After that, Sampe spent years in various corrections and supervision programs, finally being released on Christmas Eve in 2004.

"Then I was living with my mother, and they hadn't really notified the community that I was a sex offender," Sampe said. "The landlord told her, 'either he goes or you go,' so I had to move."

Sampe did move, but he said the paperwork "never really caught up with me." He was charged with failure to register his new address in 2006 and sentenced to a year's probation, which he completed successfully.

His record does not include any further sexual offenses, he said, although he has other black marks - battery to an inmate when he was at the county jail, fleeing an officer, and escape from jail when he left his Huber Law work-release worksite unauthorized, and another failure to register in 2007, leading to three years in prison and three years' probation.

Now, Sampe said, he has cleaned up his act and is just looking forward to settling down with his family.

"I completed an AODA (alcohol and other drug abuse) course and an anger management course and successfully completed probation in August," he said.

Sampe currently is not employed due to a back problem, but he does have family responsibilities, he said.

He has been living at 216 E. Milwaukee St. in Jefferson for two years with his fiancée, his biological daughter and her two children, whose fathers are no longer in the picture.

Since Jefferson's sex offender residence restriction does not apply to those already residing within the child safety zones upon the ordinance's passage, he was allowed to remain at his previous residence despite its location.

The problem came when Sampe sought to move with his family to a new, more spacious house at 502 S. Center Avenue, which is also located in a child safety zone. The lease on his current residence runs out March 1.

Sampe addressed the issue at a recent meeting of the Jefferson Common Council, and he also contacted city attorney Bennett Brantmeier.

"The potential is, I lose my family if I have to sleep somewhere else," Sampe said. "Yet, I can walk my daughter and stepdaughter to school and sign them in and out. I don't understand how that is OK and I can't sleep at my family's house at night."

For the time being, Sampe is sleeping at a Fort Atkinson hotel, but he said he returns to his family's home during the day.

"I've been dealing with the label and the politics of being a sex offender since 1994," Sampe said. "I am used to registering where I live. I am used to people being notified when I move anywhere, and I understand that. When they know where you live, they can keep a closer eye on you. But I am done with that kind of life. I want to have a family and a future and this regulation could take all that away from me."

He said that if people are kept from living with supportive family members - their mother, perhaps, or a wife or girlfriend and children - this type of regulation might have the opposite effect and more offenders will fail to register and it becomes more difficult to find them.

In other circumstances, it could make it difficult for offenders who have served their time to find any housing at all, thus increasing the burden on taxpayers.

"Right now, the Department of Corrections is scrambling. With more communities passing these ordinances, they're having trouble placing people," Sampe said.

"There are guys that are sex offenders sitting in county jail when they could go free because they have no place to go," he said. "A lot of sex offenders don't have friends and family. Uproot them, and they lose their job, they lose their ability to contribute to society."

Sampe and McWilliams will both present their appeals before Jefferson's Sex Offender Residency Board at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Jefferson Police Department. The hearings will be open to the public, although they could enter closed session at some point if items come up of a confidential nature, such as medical records or juvenile records that are closed to public view.

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