The Supervised Release Program supports individuals with histories of sexual offenses returning to community living following time in prison for their crimes and participation in a treatment program.
Program participation controlled by court system
The Supervised Release Program is part of Wisconsin's sexually violent person law (Wis. Stat. ch. 980). Since 1994, the state has had the ability to ask a court to order a convicted sex offender into inpatient treatment managed by the Department of Health Services. This request comes as the sex offender is completing their prison term and is on the verge of being released to the community. The sex offender is committed if they have been convicted of certain crimes and have a mental disorder that makes them more likely than not to engage in acts of sexual violence.
Committed sex offenders become patients at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston. The number of people housed at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center is a small fraction of the population of convicted sex offenders in the state. The facility's average monthly population is about 280. There currently are more than 25,000 convicted sex offenders living in communities all around Wisconsin.
Individuals committed to treatment at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center have the opportunity to petition their committing court for release every 12 months. If the court determines an individual has reached a point in their treatment in which they are no longer more likely than not to reoffend, the court orders either community living on supervised release or discharge with no supervision from the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center.
As of January 7, 2020, 63 individuals are living in the community on supervised release throughout the state.
Protection of community safety
Supervised release is a safer option than discharge to the community directly from Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center. Unlike direct discharge to the community, the Supervised Release Program offers many supports aimed at helping a person make a successful transition back to the community, including housing, employment, medication, and continued treatment.
Individuals on supervised release face much stricter conditions than other released sex offenders, including required chaperones virtually anytime they leave the house for at least the first year; real-time satellite monitoring of their movements; frequent home and work visits; and polygraph tests to ensure they are following program rules. These conditions are designed to become less restrictive over time if there are no violations. Individuals who violate supervised release rules may have their community release revoked by a court.