Release outlined for sex offenders
According to Wisconsin state statutes, a sexually violent person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense or has been found not guilty of or not responsible for a sexually violent offense by reason of insanity or mental disease, defect, or illness, and who is dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it likely that the person will engage in one or more acts of sexual violence.
HANOVER Nothing a panel of law enforcement and state officials had to say about the relocation of two sex offenders into a Hanover home appeared to comfort residents Monday.
Officials pleaded with the more than 100 residents of the community—about two-thirds of its population—who packed into the Plymouth Town Hall, asking the residents to remain quiet while officials explained the placement and history of the sex offenders.
Clayton J. Smith, 51, and William H. Stuit, 64, will move this week from Rock Valley Community Programs south of Janesville to a home at 8121 W. Mill St. in Hanover, an unincorporated town about 10 miles southwest of Janesville. Both men have been committed under the state's sexually violent person law, officials said.
The placement met state requirements for the highest level of public notification, which prompted the meeting. Resident came with concerns about why two serious offenders were going to be placed in the same house in a community without a police department.
Residents often laughed at, mocked or demanded more answers to officials' explanations.
"I can't guarantee safety. Nothing's guaranteed in life," Sheriff Bob Spoden told the crowd. "But what I can guarantee you is we are going to be here."
Spoden outlined a plan to have deputies do "knock and talk" checks at the offenders' house as often as possible, with a minimum of one stop per shift. Deputies also would be on saturation patrol, and Spoden said overtime would be used if needed.
"We're going to do this indefinitely," he said. "As long as they're here, we're going to be here."
The sheriff's office actions are in addition to state monitoring, which officials from the state Department of Health Services and Department of Corrections outlined.
During the first year of release, both men can't leave the house—even to get the mail or take out the trash—without a state-contracted escort, said Jason Cram, a DHS supervisor. But that time has expired for both men, who have been living at Rock Valley for more than a year, he said.
According to state law, the two men don't need to be escorted anymore. However, "for a period of time" determined by state officials, the offenders will be escorted whenever they leave the home, Cram said.
Smith and Stuit also are on electronic and GPS monitoring.
Spoden assured residents they would be notified when any changes were made to the offenders' monitoring.
Senior agents with the DOC are assigned to conduct random checks on the men upwards of three times a day at any time to make sure everything is OK, Cram said. He said that in time residents would come to recognize the agents and that they shouldn't be alarmed if a vehicle pulls up to the home at 3 a.m.
The Mill Street house meets state criteria for housing sex offenders, and someone was willing to rent it, Cram said.
Among other factors, Hanover has no ordinances prohibiting such placement, and the community has no licensed day care centers, he said.
The state placed an ad on Craigslist seeking a home that would meet state criteria. An individual responded, but none of the properties he had available matched the necessary criteria.
Eventually, officials found the house in Hanover and determined it would meet state criteria, Cram said. The individual who offered the other homes and who also owns Wisconsin Health Services House then bought the house.
The state did not buy the house because it cannot buy property. It can only rent.
Cram emphasized that no home would have been perfect. If the men had been placed in Footville or Janesville, officials would be at a similar meeting with a different set of angry residents.
Residents demanded to know who approved the placement, and officials said the state DHS and DOC gave approval with Rock County Judges James Daley and Michael Fitzpatrick giving final approval.
Many residents, such as Kim Miller, left feeling helpless.
"Our opinion doesn't matter, this is how it is. It doesn't matter that we pay our taxes to live here," said Miller, who brought her 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.
"Just because it's a small community—for the most part everyone knows one another and looks out for one another—now they just uprooted everything, and it's sad."