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Dispelling sex offender myths

Kewaunee County is no different than other communities when it comes to welcoming back sex offenders. According to state statute, any person convicted of sexual assault or another related crime must register as a sex offender. Since 1997, law enforcement professionals have been required to alert the community when they are released, especially since also according to state statute, sex offenders have to return to their county of conviction. The “Why Here?” is where Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says many people get confused.

Joski says the community and law enforcement can work together to prevent further offenses. He adds that sex offenders have a recidivism rate of less than nine percent, and between 86 and 94 percent of the crimes were committed by either family members or close acquaintances of the victims. You can read more about the sex offender registry below:

 

FROM SHERIFF MATT JOSKI

Recently I have had a few residents with questions surrounding the topic of sex offenders, and the sex offender registry. Throughout the years I have written articles pertaining to many topics which affect the overall safety of our communities. From theft and fraud prevention to animal bites and cold weather preparation, there is never a shortage of issues in which helpful information can be shared. Looking back, it has been over five years since I last wrote on this subject, so this week I would like to cover some information regarding sex offenders and the guidelines which govern their re-integration into our communities.

             

By state statute definition, a person who must register is any individual who has been convicted of a charge as defined in Wisconsin State Statute 301.45. These crimes involve sexual assault and include a variety of specific offenses. While these types of offenses have been committed throughout history, it was in 1997 that the Sex Offender Registry and the Community Notification Law went into effect, thus providing a means by which law enforcement and the community can work together to better inform and ultimately prevent further offenses from occurring. While no issue has the potential to create more anxiety, it is important to note that the recidivism rate among these offenders is only 8.8% and that in a majority of the cases (86%- 94%) were committed by either family members or close acquaintances.

            

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive when conducting a notification is “Why here?” Many are not aware that there is in fact a state statute requirement that upon discharge from the correctional facility, the offender must return to the county of conviction. While many times this will allow the offender close access to follow up counseling as well as resources from family or friends, this is not always the case and many times efforts are made to place the individual in the environment which will facilitate their return to a normal life and minimize the potential for re-offense.

            

What is important in this entire process is that we share information, and then just as importantly use that information responsibly to bring awareness to the community while not infringing upon the basic rights of the individual who is the subject of the notification. We must also understand that the knowledge of past offenders and their whereabouts is just part of the prevention in these types of crimes. We must be vigilant in regards to those who have contact with our children throughout the year. As stated earlier, most sex offenses involve victims who are known to their offenders, and thus prevention must include careful screening of all those entrusted with the care of our kids. Many organizations have implemented child protection protocols which may involve courses which have to be completed prior to any work involving children. For more information on the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry you can go to:

https://doc.wi.gov/community-resources/offender-registry

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