Legally held in jail? Some attorneys question holding homeless sex offenders after release

2014-02-17T06:34:00Z 2014-02-17T18:34:10Z Legally held in jail? Some attorneys question holding homeless sex offenders after releaseSTEPHANIE JONES Journal Times

RACINE COUNTY — Nearly a month after Roger Clawson was supposed to be free, he is still in jail.

The issue is Clawson, a registered sex offender, has nowhere to live because of new sex offender ordinances. As a result, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections has put a hold on him requiring him to report to the County Jail nightly.

The statewide practice of holding homeless sex offenders in jail is something that some attorneys question the legality of, while others say it’s understandable.

As of Friday, Clawson had no idea when he will be able to live elsewhere, and DOC spokeswoman Joy Staab said in an email Thursday, “The offender will remain staying in the jail at night until he finds an approved residence within the county of his conviction.”

There are legal grounds for placing a hold on offenders if they cannot meet conditions of their release, such as finding housing in compliance with city laws, said Cecelia Klingele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor, who has researched the collateral consequences of sex offenders’ sentences.

But she said, “This raises serious questions about due process, when individuals are being confined not because they are unwilling to comply with the law, but as a result of poverty or other circumstances beyond their control.”

For instance, in Clawson’s situation, if he had enough money he could likely find somewhere that would rent to him despite sex offender residency ordinances. But he says he doesn’t have enough and, consequently, he has nowhere to stay.

Similarly, Sean Brown, a Racine criminal defense attorney said, “I would question the legality of it (holding someone in jail).”

After an offender has been released on extended supervision, there should be a revocation hearing and then a finding of a violation before he can be held in custody, Brown said. Without a hearing, there can’t be a violation.

“What did they violate? They cannot help that the place they have to live doesn’t allow them to live there,” he said, referring to ordinances.

Ed Yohnka, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois’ director of communications and public policy, also said, “Without knowing more about the circumstances I find this to be very troubling that someone could in fact, after they finish their sentence be held again ... This seems to be a very strange circumstance.” Wisconsin’s ACLU did not respond to requests for comment.

Racine attorney Robert Peterson, who has experience representing sex offenders, said he is not familiar with Clawson’s specific case. But he said he understands what the state is doing and the legal argument for holding homeless sex offenders in jail. “You have to have an approved residence,” he said.

“My question is the necessity and the wisdom of the ordinances that create these types of problems, especially when the empirical data we have doesn’t support their effectiveness.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Peterson, who warned the city about such ordinances even before they passed.

“This is a challenging public safety issue,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. “Nobody wants the offenders living next to them, but the thing really is where do they go?”

For now, he said he applauds the efforts of the Department of Corrections, holding sex offenders until restrictions can be met, such as making sure they have a place to live.

“You cannot arbitrarily release a sex offender and make them ‘homeless,’ ” he said. “The answer isn’t just boot them out the door.

“The community has spoken; this is what they want,” he said of the sex offender ordinances.

Clawson said corrections staff are being helpful with his job search, giving him a phone to call prospective employers and driving him to pick up applications. Once he has a job, he can start to save money for rent, he said.

He is grateful to be able to stay in the jail at night, rather than living outside homeless.

“In this weather, I’ll definitely take the jail and the bologna sandwich (for lunch),” he said. “At least I’m not living under a bridge ... If it was nice weather perhaps, but not now.”

Local sex offender ordinances

The Mount Pleasant Village Board passed an ordinance Jan. 13 greatly restricting where sex offenders can live. That ordinance came on the heels of similar ordinances passed in Racine, Sturtevant and Caledonia. The ordinances limit how close offenders can live to schools, day cares, churches, parks and playgrounds.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(26) Comments

  1. thong
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    thong - June 02, 2014 9:32 pm
    Ah, Rudy101. College student? Law perhaps? You're pretty good at not making any sense out of the extract. Probably see you in politics soon no doubt. Or is it for your grades? Debate class experiment?
    Cuidado! You keep playing with people's emotions, you'll end up on the short end of the stick.
    Besides, nobody but nobody like a smart aleck! đồ bộ bé gái
  2. alex19851988
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    alex19851988 - May 24, 2014 11:36 pm
    Are the attorneys who question this process willing to take in a rapist or two until they get back on their feet? Will judges ever release criminals into their own neighborhoods? Two-faced, lying scum on both sides of the issue,

    We have an adversarial system of "justice." The more crime, the more everyone makes. Ka-ching! mua đồ online cho bé
  3. Mexican-redneck
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    Mexican-redneck - February 22, 2014 8:55 pm
    Ah, Rudy101. College student? Law perhaps? You're pretty good at not making any sense out of the extract. Probably see you in politics soon no doubt. Or is it for your grades? Debate class experiment?
    Cuidado! You keep playing with people's emotions, you'll end up on the short end of the stick.
    Besides, nobody but nobody like a smart aleck!
  4. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 18, 2014 11:07 am
    You want a simple world, condensed into simple concepts. Sexuality goes to the heart of vulnerability and of our nature. Those that struggle get no sympathy from you, I understand.

    But this issue isn't about your common sense. What it is about is the banishment, and punishment under theories enacted through the political process that has no judicial oversight.

    The State can't punish twice, nor use a conviction standing alone, as a basis for a comphrensive police state applied outside of a sentence of a court of law.

    I am not in this to convince you people of anything. That would be a acnkowlegement of a political solution verses a judical solution..

    The State does NOT, as a matter of fundemental fairness, have the unfettered and unlimited ability to make and dissiminate a list of people society considers dangerous.

    You all can have all the simple answers that make you feel better. I could care less. I am an individual before the law and my demands are to be treated as an individual before the law. That basic foundation of law is not being applied to me. Therefore, I don't and won't have to register and eventually your registry, as it is now, is going to fall.

    Your list is illigitimately put together. Understand?

    That's the good news!
  5. B
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    B - February 18, 2014 9:05 am
    Now obviously there's the wrongly accused. To those people my heart goes out the those that have been unfairly persecuted. Lord knows not all offenders are guilty.
  6. B
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    B - February 18, 2014 8:56 am
    Oh you don't touch people sexually without consent
  7. B
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    B - February 18, 2014 8:55 am
    Look we can go around and around. Maybe I was raised with common sense. You don't have sex with underage you don't touch little boys and girls. I must be crazy
  8. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 18, 2014 8:31 am
    There is almost a certain chance one of your kids will become a sex offender. There is a reasonable chance he will be caught.

    That is what you people don't consider. It is the utter minimization of sexual abuse that leads to it shoving in the closet.

    You think the registry brings sexual abuse out in the open? OH NO! It is full of hypocracy. A large portion of your registry is full of CHILDREN!

    Children who have no idea how to deal with their new found sexuality and most get through it fine. Most make their mistakes and learn and never involve the police. (you remember growing up, don't you? or did you spend all day in church, which seems to be not safe either.)

    SOME get caught up in your insane system of labeling, isolating, banishing and ultimately destroying CHILDREN because of your inability to even remotely understand, not only your own sexuality, but anyone else's. You forget, you minimize and you point fingers with a ferocity and righteousness.

    Your kids will be fine, I am sure. If they started registering all kids who did something sexually illegally, your registry would be bursting with half the male population.

    So, when your kids act out (and at least one will) you will have a perfect disconnect between your above statement and who sick the hands are.

    But like I said, MOST get through ok. You'll minimize and truthfully, you will see things a bit more realistically, when it becomes one of your own kids.
  9. B
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    B - February 18, 2014 8:17 am
    Blah! Blah! Blah! Sex offenders are sex offenders PERIOD!!!!! YOU Can spew all your comments and quotes you want. SEX OFFENDERS ARE SEX OFFENDERS. I HAVE 5 children and if anyone put their sick @ss hands on one of my kids they wouldn't have to worry about not having a place to live
  10. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 18, 2014 7:51 am
    You all people really believe you know what you are talking about. Even to the expense of children.

    You all can spew your dribble all you want. But the reality of the facts are, you are wrong and the only thing that keeps your opinion as valid, is solely politics and politicalization of the registry.

    There is no legal requirement to pose ANY danger to be listed. You all left who gets to be listed completely to the control of a legislature.

    You all have lost your minds to think you can legislate people dangerous ex-post facto, without hearing, without challenge and without appeal. You all think you can do this with the legal cover of passing off your laws as regulatory.

    Your laws are dangeorus, not just to me, but to the community. You can't get away from that oucome as much as you think you can by invoking imagry of the worst sort.

    "Nothing is more common than for a free people, in times of heat and violence, to gratify momentary passions, by letting into the government, principles and precedents which afterwards prove fatal to themselves. Of this kind is the doctrine of disqualification,
    disfranchisement and banishment by acts of legislature. The dangerous consequences of this power are manifest. If the legislature can disfranchise any number of citizens at pleasure by general descriptions, it may soon confine all the votes to a small number of
    partizans, and establish an aristocracy or an oligarchy; if it may banish at discretion all those whom particular circumstances render obnoxious, without hearing or trial, no man can be safe, nor know when he may be the innocent victim of a prevailing faction. The name of
    liberty applied to such a government would be a mockery of common
    sense." Alexander Hamilton.

    You all know it all! Except how to protect your own freedom. There is no legal reason why you all can't start registering everyone that has ever been convicted of anything.

    You have just started at the bottom....the most comprehensive police State in the free world, has only begun, and it will be done at the demands of its own people.

    Take your registry and shove it. I will have nothing to do with it...and nothing anyone can do about it!
  11. B
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    B - February 18, 2014 7:10 am
    Rudy were not talking about a thief!!! We're talking about people that engage sexual acts of minors usually little boys and girls. Sex offenders should be put on there own island somewhere in their own country and you can be the president. Can't believe you're trying to put a thief and a sick freak in the same ballpark.
  12. timbo
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    timbo - February 18, 2014 6:50 am
    Anyone who’s had sex knows how hard the passion is to turn off once ignited. And sex offenders have perverse ON switches. They may seem like normal, rational men … until their switch goes On. There may be better ways to handle their situation, but for now it is better to err on the side of protecting a community of innocents. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.” – Spock.
  13. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 18, 2014 5:28 am
    There are reasons I will never go back on a registry. One of the most important reasons are illustrated nicely in the article.

    A person is thrown into prison for a registry violation, everything is taken from him, and then you won't let him out of jail because he has nothing.

    No ex-post facto laws, no double punishments. You can have your police State. You can keep your police State. You all refuse to have even basic procedural due process before you banish and isolate.

    It is not my problem, but yours. I get to laugh at the registry and lampoon it with impunity. Why? Because you people believe you have all the answers to the expense of basic fairness, justice and even the safety of the community and children.

  14. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 18, 2014 5:07 am
    You act like you never stole anything in your life. It is your concepts that are simplistic and easily understandable. Even a child can digest what you are saying. They are so understandable you can even pass policies and laws that sound so good, and whether a few children get raped because of them can never enter into the equation.

    Why would you advocate for laws and policies that are raping more children than otherwise would be?

    Because you can simplistically distill complicated issues of sexuality, sexual offending and treatments?

    You wrote a very nice paragraph. NOW, draw a line between the policies in place and a safer community. Show your evidence. All it takes is a google search to find oodles of research by unbiased and peer reviewed research.

    You won't do it, of course. Why? Because the only answers you get from those researchers who have, not only studied the issue, but have shown statistical correlations between the policies you support and more raped kids.

    Congratulations for thinking about society.


  15. Mexican-redneck
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    Mexican-redneck - February 18, 2014 12:21 am
    Rudy101: what friggin' planet do you live on? Once a thief always a thief. I work with children, and they don't know any better. Parents must be pit-bulls in their children's life, especially online, the take away is this: sexual predators DO know better but chose to saify their selfish desire without regard to anyone else. The damage in the wake of their sick decisions weigh heavily on the victim(s) for the REST of their lives up to the victim's kids.
    Please, get over yourself and think about the rest of society.
  16. Joe Taxpayer
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    Joe Taxpayer - February 17, 2014 10:45 pm
    I think Rudy and his or her hippy friends should take these ppl in their homes
  17. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 17, 2014 8:54 pm
    Pedophilia is a mental condition that is aggravated, (especially in people with violent tendencies) by feelings of alienation and isolation.

    The ONLY response the State has to a medical diagnosis of pedophilia is to aggravate it through unlimited public notifcation.

    Are there other answers? Can those answers protect the community? Of course there is, but it doesn't involve killing or threatening to kill people with the mental condition of pedophilia.

    What to do with THOSE people? Put them into a court of law, where a cout, under advisement of the State, medical experts, and the offender, does what is best for the offender and the community.

    But you all will NEVER do something like that. Many of you love the aspect of spreading fear and violence too much to actually care about children.

    "The only good pedophile is a dead pedophile" UNLESS that pedophile is your own child. As with everything experience and knowlege changes everything you thought you knew.

    Freedom is about society NOT getting lists to satsify their own lurid appetite for feeling superior to the exclusion of safety of other members of the community.

    The funny thing about it is, you all don't understand that yet. It is why the registry, as it is now is fated to fail...
  18. anniegetyourgun
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    anniegetyourgun - February 17, 2014 7:34 pm
    Kevinsmom : Amen.
  19. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 17, 2014 6:38 pm
    Are you asserting this man is a pedophile?

    That is a pretty strong assertion. Can you back it up with anything? Or do you just have a definition of pedophelia that allows you to name anyone you want?

    The point of the matter is, you don't care about who is a pedophile or not. What you care about is that YOU, and a legislature can name anyone a pedophile that they want.

  20. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 17, 2014 6:35 pm
    No, Kay, you are incorrect. No ex-post facto laws, no double punishments.

    You sound like you are a saint?

    You are not. You are not a felon solely because you didn't get caught. OR are you going to make the assertion you are sinless?

    I left the registry. Do you understand WHY? It is because you can't "monitor" "regulate" or "punish" outside of a court of law.

    You can't get me to comply with a registry and never will.

    I know you believe the Constitution was created for saints, but when you look at it, there are lots of protections, not for just those that are charged with a crime, but those that are convicted also.

  21. kevinsmom68
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    kevinsmom68 - February 17, 2014 4:30 pm
    the only good pedophile is a dead one
  22. Rick Ray Earle
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    Rick Ray Earle - February 17, 2014 4:11 pm
    Are the attorneys who question this process willing to take in a rapist or two until they get back on their feet? Will judges ever release criminals into their own neighborhoods? Two-faced, lying scum on both sides of the issue,

    We have an adversarial system of "justice." The more crime, the more everyone makes. Ka-ching!
  23. Kay Nine
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    Kay Nine - February 17, 2014 11:05 am
    THEY chose their path when they committed the crimes. WE don't want them in our communities. Make the sex offender write letters and make phone calls begging for permission to live in an area. Make them find housing. Or create some type of secure, monitored housing for them so they don't have the opportunity to wander unmonitored.

    Rudy101: Are you by chance on the sex offender registry list? Thou protest too much. These people have proven they cannot follow society's rules and laws. They need to be forced to comply. I wish we had similar guidelines for all felony offenders... make them register so they can be tracked and monitored. When people chose to be stupid, they pay for their choices.
  24. The Observant Fisherman
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    The Observant Fisherman - February 17, 2014 10:54 am
    I have a 3yr old and can empathize with people who are for all the registry and blockage for residence within defined perimeters. However, when we get to the root of the matter, we're not helping rehabilitate individuals by choking them out of being a productive citizen. If you can't find domicile and gainful employment, you're more likely to re-offend. Until our job situation improves, they will likely continue to struggle this way as there will be many others in the Racine area unemployed that are more desirable as potential candidates. Solve the jobs, you solve a lot of life's problems. I will also acknowledge that there are many who will re-offend no matter what.
  25. layedback
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    layedback - February 17, 2014 7:43 am
    Racine is a Ghetto everywhere so why should it matter where he or anyone lives?
  26. Rudy101
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    Rudy101 - February 17, 2014 7:07 am
    “You cannot arbitrarily release a sex offender and make them ‘homeless,’ ” he said. “The answer isn’t just boot them out the door.

    “The community has spoken; this is what they want,” he said of the sex offender ordinances."

    The community has no legal basis for forcing people from the community (or ensuring they never arrive) through the political process, outside of a court of law and outside of a sentence of a court of law.

    It seems really nice that the feature of government is a democratic process that allows the community to vote those they don't like out of the community.

    Just think: Do you want a crack-head living next door to you? Do you want as person who has been convicted of assault living near you? In fact, you don't really want any person living near you, that doesn't wear the same halo as yourself?

    All you need is a list and the democratic process takes over.

    The registry is ILLEGAL! It is used ONLY for illegal purposes of banishment, harassment, threats, isolation and fear. There is no evidence it protects the community in any way, with the only evidence the registry and associated registry laws doing anything is HARM.

    Passed ex-post facto, outside of a sentence, used politically and the only result is HARM to the community and the offender.

    There is LOTS of legal precedence that allows people who have been put under police states illegally and SOLELY through the policial process to FLEE the registry and do whatever what one can do to avoid the registry.

    I left the registry. I get to live my life as a law-abiding citizen who doesn't have to abide by laws that do not apply to ordinary citizens. If you all want to put me under a police state, you are going to need some DUE PROCESS.

    Your politics are illegitimate, which makes the results of the politics invalid.

    Sorry about your stupid registry, but do something to actually protect children, instead of congratulating yourself on your delusion of making the community safer.
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