Legislation authored by State Representative Robb Kahl (D-Monona) to close a loophole in sex offender law has passed both houses of the legislature and can now be signed into law by the Governor.
The change in law is the direct result of the placement of a sex offender in McFarland under the terms of an interstate compact.
“I want to thank members of each party in each house for their help in moving this legislation through,” Kahl said. “When I shared the concerns of McFarland of Police Chief Craig Sherven, members listened and realized that current law was flawed and needed to be changed.”
The offender placed in McFarland committed his offenses in Illinois and served time in the Illinois Correctional System. Had the individual in question committed his crimes in Wisconsin and been sentenced to serve time in a Wisconsin correctional facility, the Department of Corrections would have issued a Special Bulletin Notice (SBN) to the police chief of the community and the county sheriff to alert them that the offender in question poses a significant risk to the community.
However, current law does not apply to offenders placed in state under terms of a compact – even if they pose a significant risk.
A law enforcement agency’s receipt of an SBN serves as a mechanism to initiate a local decisionmaking process to determine the level, scope, and method of community notification, if determined necessary. In instances in which an SBN is not issued, local law enforcement generally does not issue a community notification.
“Legislators understand that the Department of Corrections worked well with the McFarland Police Department to address community concerns to the greatest extent possible in this case,” Kahl stated.
“The change in law simply ensures that when sex offenders are placed in a community – whether from a Wisconsin correctional facility or under the terms of a compact – that the chief of police and sheriff will receive the SBN that is necessary to protect the public by initiating the local decision making process and providing appropriate community notification.”
The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 668, was passed on March 18 by the Senate on a voice vote and was taken up and passed by the Assembly March 20 on a voice vote.