Transitional housing provides offenders temporary home
In the last six months, at least five sex offenders were released in Superior less than a block from the public library. Four of them were rated level III, a designation of risk that triggered the distribution of fliers, press releases and mailings to alert neighbors.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, 1620 N. 16th St., is one of two transitional living program sites in Superior. These facilities provide temporary housing to offenders as they transition into the community from a correctional institution or jail. Anyone on supervision through the Department of Corrections may be considered for residency in transitional living, according to Joy Staab, director of public affairs for the department. The Department of Corrections pays for the facilities, with some offenders providing a co-payment of $1 per day once they find employment.
“The goal is to get them back on their feet,” Staab said.
In Superior, the program provides a case manager who works with the participants to help them find employment and housing. Staff members also conduct random inspections of each unit at least twice a day, up to 24 times per week. Any program rule violations or offender absences at unscheduled times are reported to the offender’s probation agent.
The average stay for a newly-released offender is 30 to 60 days, but they may stay longer on a case-by-case basis based on the offender’s risk and need.
“Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the offender to find a place to live,” Staab said. The state has about 450 contracted beds statewide for the transitional living program, including six at 1620 N. 16th St. and two at 1420 N. 12th St. in Superior.
Sex offenders released from prison usually return to live in the same area of the state where they lived when they committed their crime. According to Staab, there are no state guidelines regulating where transitional living is located. A community corrections agent does a residence investigation prior to placement to determine the best available residence for the offender and public safety. But by design, parks, schools and day care centers are located throughout every community in the state, the Department of Corrections stated on its website.
When 52-year-old William Ramirez was released to the North 16th Street earlier this month, a level III notification was held for neighbors, which included a public meeting. Ramirez was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in 1988 for a repeated sexual assault against a female unknown to him. The assault involved the victim being threatened with a knife and occurred over a period of 2½ hours. He returned to Superior after serving more than 20 years in prison.
The purpose behind community notification is to reduce the chances of future victimization. Open communication among family members is a vital component of family safety. Knowing about the release of an offender can prompt families to review safety tips and protective behaviors.
Staab did not have any recidivism rates for offenders released into transitional living statewide. A search of the state’s sex offender registry showed that two of the five men whose release to 1620 N. 16th St. over the past six months warranted media notification are back behind bars. Leon R. Linky, 25, who was released in November, is incarcerated in the Dodge Correctional Institution. Raymond Myshack, 24, who was released in December, is in custody at the Douglas County Jail.
For more information on the release of sex offenders into the community or the addresses of local sex offenders, go to http://offender.doc.state.wi.us/public