Rock County considers creating facility to house released sex offenders

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rock County is searching for a place for violent sex offenders to be housed after they’ve served their time in prison.

Rock County Administrator Josh Smith says, currently, there are four offenders being released from the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, and nine more could be released soon.

Wisconsin state law requires violent sex offenders be released back into the community in which they live, but Smith says concerns from neighbors forced them to consider alternative housing ideas.

“We have a committee now that meets whenever there’s a sexually violent offender that comes out, and we look to find residences,” he said. “And, as you can imagine, those aren’t always met with agreement by the members of the community, who are now having these folks live in their neighborhoods.”

A duplex has been proposed which would house the four offenders, but Smith says the location has yet to be decided.

“The four sites we’re currently looking at are on the north side of Janesville, on County-owned property, essentially in this area,” Smith said.

The land, on Highway 51 North and Highway 14, is far from schools and parks, which offenders can’t legally live near.

“It wasn’t in the city of Janesville, which had more requirements for citing a property like that, [and it was] a little more expensive, as well,” Smith said. “And, it was the furthest away from, really, neighborhoods, which has been a concern.”

Smith says nothing has been finalized, and he is unsure what will happen.

“There’s mixed feelings about this overall, so it’s been through one committee. Earlier this week, it went through our Public Safety and Justice committee, where the committee voted against it by a vote of 3-2,” he said. “And so, it will be mixed, I think, and I’m not sure whether the County Board will ultimately be in favor of this or not.”

Smith says, to avoid the building having the feel of an institution, the idea of creating a duplex felt appropriate.

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