State pays big money to monitor sex offenders

State pays big money to monitor sex offenders
State pays big money to monitor sex offenders

GREEN BAY - Sex offenders on supervised release from Sand Ridge Treatment Center have to be monitored and escorted where ever they go. And you the taxpayer pays for that. And it's big money.

Last year taxpayers paid $1.2 million to monitor and transport some 30 sex offenders in the program.

State Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah, finds the cost a gross waste of taxpayer money. He blames the Department of Health Services which runs the supervised release program.

"If this was a private sector business the board of directors would have gone in and kicked these people out," said Ellis.

FOX 11 Investigates uncovered the high cost being paid last year. That attention led to a state audit of the program.

DHS was then ordered to implement changes as the result of cost-saving recommendations. The biggest issue is the amount DHS pays Attic Correctional Services. Attic collects $69.89 an hour. That's more than double the $30.87 an hour rate Attic charges Wisconsin's Department of Corrections for the exact same monitoring and transportation services.

"Why can Corrections move you from 'A' to 'B' at one third the cost of this agency? Why? You've read this stuff there's not answer there," said Ellis. "Why the difference. It makes no sense."

Jason Cram heads up the Supervised Release Program. FOX11's Mark Leland questioned him last fall as he worked to find a lower cost solution.

"Have you found that's going to be a problem moving forward?" asked Leland

"Well we're optimistic we'll be able to procure, purchase lower cost monitors, monitoring and chaperoning staff," said Cram back in November.

DHS met the April 1st deadline to report back to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, but so far has not been able to lower the price it pays for monitoring. The current company providing the work, Attic Services, refused to lower its cost to be more in line with what it charges DOC.

DHS last month issued a request for proposals for monitoring and transportation to find another, more cost effective alternative. Its current contract with Attic expires at the end of May.

DHS was able to save a projected $43,600 this year by purchasing washers and dryers for ten of the state-rented homes where the sex offenders in the program live. The savings comes from eliminating chaperoned trips to the laundromat.

But other chaperoned trips came under scrutiny last year, when I tracked down a former monitor.
She felt many outings were a waste of taxpayer dollars.

She explained what kinds of things were they allowed to do on outings.

"They got to exercise at a fitness place. They could go to the library for movies, you know that was kind of ridiculous. You know taking walks," the monitor said.

"You would go on a walk with a sex offender?" asked Leland.

"Yeah, right. So he could get exercise," she confirmed.

As a result, DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades states in her report to legislators that a new policy has been written up to more closely review the need and frequency for chaperoned outings.

DHS officials would not comment on camera about its cost-saving efforts. They do say it's an ongoing process. They will though have to address legislators questions at a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing expected to take place in the next month.

Stay turned to FOX 11 for future updates.