Milwaukee May Restrict Where Sex Offenders Can Live

Jul 11, 2014

The city may limit where ex-offenders can live, because many surrounding communities have done so, resulting in a high rate of placement in the city.

City restrictions could make it much more difficult for state to find places ex-offenders can live

When sex offenders leave prison, state law demands that they return to the county where they had lived prior to incarceration. Nearly 90 percent of the sex offenders who came from Milwaukee County, now live in the City of Milwaukee, because of restrictions suburbs enacted.

Ald. Michael Murphy says the city asked the state to intervene, but because it has not, leaders here may also limit the neighborhoods where ex-offenders can live.

“You will have 117 locations to consider for your future placement, and in reality it will be more like 15 or less and what that impact will be to your operations,” Murphy says.

Under legislation a Common Council committee advanced Thursday, sex offenders could not live within 2,000 feet of a daycare, school, playground and other places where children congregate.

Murphy says if the full council agrees, there will only be one square mile within city limits where sex offenders could live.

Ald. Bob Bauman says while he has opposed residency limits in the past, they will now get his full support, for one reason.

“It increases the perception of Milwaukee as a crime infested second rate place to live and the suburbs are great and look, we can keep out all the undesirable people. And I’m just sick and tired of that paradigm being in place. And the state seems unconcerned because these are Republican suburbs by in large, and heaven forbid those representatives are going to take on these uniform residency rules. So enough is enough the city is going to join the party and it’s your problem now,” Bauman says.

The state Department of Corrections had a representative on hand at Thursday’s hearing, Melissa Roberts. She says if the map for placements changes, authorities could lose track of sex offenders. Right now, many do reside in the city, and police know where.

“The intent of the sex offender registry is to know where sex offenders live and to be able to provide that information to the general public and to law enforcement. Where there are registry restrictions in place and sex offenders don’t have a place to live we obviously have increased homelessness. So we do not know where they live and cannot follow them, Roberts says.

Roberts says sex offenders are more of a danger to the public when they’re off the grid versus being monitored. When it comes to complaints about the high concentration of sex offenders placed in Milwaukee, Roberts says the majority are from the city.  

The issue will come before the full board on July 22.