Friday, April 13, 2007

Oshkosh begins researching sex offender ordinance

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04/13/2007 OSHKOSH — With communities around Northeastern Wisconsin enacting ordinance that restrict where registered sex offenders can live, Oshkosh city officials have begun researching a similar ordinance.

The town of Algoma enacted an ordinance in November that restricts convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of child safe zones and communities in Brown County have begun discussing the idea since a similar ordinance went into effect in Green Bay earlier this week.

City manager Richard Wollangk said the city is gathering information about residency restriction ordinances, while also looking into the problems they could potentially pose. Wollangk said there is no time line in place to determine whether the city will go forward with creating an ordinance.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry, there are about 160 registered sex offenders living within the city limits as of Thursday.

Councilor Dennis McHugh said he would be interested in seeing any information Wollangk presents to the Oshkosh Common Council.

“With all of the surrounding cities and townships passing ordinances limiting options for sex offenders to relocate, my fear is that they will migrate to the cities that don’t have an ordinance,” McHugh said.

In November, the town of Algoma passed the first ordinance in the state of Wisconsin that placed a restriction on where convicted sex offenders can live. The ordinance prohibits convicted sex offenders who have victimized a child less than 16 years old from living within 2,000 feet of parks, playgrounds, churches, schools and bike trials.

As a result it prevents those offenders from moving in to most developed parts of the town.

Algoma’s ordinance includes a mechanism that would allow offenders to live within the child safety zones if they will be residing with a relative, either by blood or through marriage, provided that relative has resided at that residence for two years.

Earlier this month a similar ordinance went into effect in the city of Green Bay.

Green Bay’s ordinance does not affect those sex offenders who already live in the city, unless they move out of their current housing and try to relocate within the city. But most sex offenders qualifying for registration under Wisconsin law can no longer reside within 2,000 feet of schools, day care centers and other places recognized by the city as places where children gather, putting more than 90 percent of the city off-limits.

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