North Hudson considers sex offender ordinanceThe North Hudson Village Board discussed a potential sex offender ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 4, but took no action, instead referring the document back to the Public Safety Committee.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
The North Hudson Village Board discussed a potential sex offender ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 4, but took no action, instead referring the document back to the Public Safety Committee.
The issue came up after the city of Hudson passed an ordinance earlier this summer.
The ordinance the village is considering is very similar to the Hudson ordinance, establishing residency restriction and restricted zones (parks, schools, churches, etc.). The North Hudson proposal would establish a limit of 200 feet in both cases. North Hudson Police Chief Mark Richert said five offenders currently live in North Hudson, but none would fall into the restriction zones being proposed.
He added, however, that courts have ruled it is illegal to essentially outlaw offenders from living anywhere in a municipality.
The board found out Tuesday night, however, that many state officials oppose sex-offender restriction laws. Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry Specialist Jody Voegeli, Eau Claire, said sex offender laws drive offenders under cover and make them harder to track.
“Not all states like restrictions – many states have repealed them,” Voegeli said. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is against them, as are many organizations established to protect victims of sex offenders.
“Research shows 90 to 95 percent of children are offended by someone they know. Research shows that offender restrictions do not protect kids and might even put them at greater risk – where the offender lives does not matter, or help.”
Board Trustee Daryl Standafer said he didn’t understand the logic of “200 feet.”
“What makes that safer than, say, 300 feet or 100 feet?” Standafer asked.
Voegeli said that’s the point – residency restrictions won’t help.
Department of Corrections representative Mike O’Keefe, Hudson, said any offender still under supervision has restrictions imposed by the department. Once they are off probation, or supervision, however, the department does not monitor them – that’s when Voegeli and the people with the Sex Offender Registry Department begin their work.
Local ordinances, however, can impose restrictions – those are the restrictions that Voegeli claims will drive sex offenders under cover.
Some board members feel an ordinance is important because of the city of Hudson passing an ordinance. With restrictions in Hudson, the fear is that potential sex offenders would start their residency search in North Hudson.
Trustee Marc Zappa said it appears there is not a real problem in North Hudson and that the village is attempting to “mirror the Hudson situation.”
The board voted to refer the issue back to the Public Safety Committee for more discussion and fact-finding.