The city of Milwaukee is accusing the Department of Corrections of dumping released sex offenders in its neighborhoods.
The city’s Common Council approved a housing ordinance last week ordinance barring sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a place where children congregate. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed the ordinance into law on Monday.
In a two-page letter to DOC Secretary Ed Wall, Barret wrote that the city had to pass the ordinance because four of the municipalities in the county have already passed similar ordinances. He wrote that after those municipalities passed ordinances, there was a 45 percent increase in the number of sex offenders living in two Milwaukee city zip codes.
“It just made logic from (the DOC’s) standpoint to say: ‘Well, let's just put them in the city of Milwaukee; the city of Milwaukee does not have a residency requirement,’” said Barrett. “Now we're saying: ‘Whoa, we are going to enact those same residency restrictions because we have to play defense, not becoming the place where sex offenders are located.”
Barrett said sex offenders are a state responsibility, and it should be up to the DOC or the Legislature to enact a statewide standard that treats all counties and cities fairly when it comes to housing them once they're released.
“It could make sure that no single community becomes oversaturated with these individuals,” said Barrett. “But it can't just simply stand on the sidelines and say, ‘Well it's not our problem.’”
In a two-sentence email, a DOC representative wrote that it is responsible for maintaining the sex offender registry, but that police departments enforce housing restrictions. The email says parole agents will make sure that the offenders it is still monitoring comply with the new restrictions.
Check out a map visualizing the new residency requirements for sex offenders in Milwaukee below: