By CAPT. RON LUENEBURG
Rhinelander Police Department
Many of you have been informed through the media of two recent releases of persons on the State of Wisconsin Sexual Offender Registry into the Rhinelander Community. These two individuals, Jason L. Mullen and Albert J. Chagnon, are currently residing within the City of Rhinelander.
Based on comments that have been posted online several people have expressed that they are unhappy with these persons being released back in to the community. It is important to understand when an offender is released from the correctional system the law is specific as to where they must reside. As required by Wis. Stat. 301.03(20), a registered sex offender who is releasing from prison must reside in one of the following locations:
• The county in which the person resided on the date of the sex offense;
• The county in which the person was convicted of the sex offense; or
• A sex offender treatment facility.
The location of where the sex offender resides is not a random selection by the Department of Corrections. There is an evaluation as to the appropriateness of the residence location. There are several variables that go into the decision making such as:
• The type of sex offense for which the offender was convicted;
• Local ordinances;
• Proximity to the victim;
• Proximity to schools, daycares, parks or other areas where children may congregate;
• The type of residence (single-family home, apartment complex, etc.);
• The community or neighborhood in which the residence exists;
• Other occupants of the dwelling;
• The offender’s attitude towards the offense and participation in treatment/programming; and
• Input from local law enforcement, victims and the community.
As a law enforcement agency, we do not control release of offenders. Our responsibility is to evaluate the dissemination of information as it pertains to an offender’s release and to work to keep the community safe. The law enforcement agency of jurisdiction for the community in which the offender is to be released has several options when it comes to community notification; they may send a press release to the media; they may conduct a door-to-door notification in the neighborhood in which the offender will be residing upon release; or they not make any notification.
The decision of what level of notification to make is not arbitrary; several factors are evaluated prior to making a notification decision. For example, case dynamics are important to assess; age of victim(s), more than one victim, level of violence, etc. Other variables assessed concern the offender’s time in prison. Did the offender respond to treatment, how did they behave, was there a propensity for violence? These factors are not all inclusive, but they illustrate some of the things that are considered in the decision making.
When law enforcement issues a press release on a sex offender who is being released into the community, it is done with the intent to inform, educate and encourage awareness in the community, not spark fear or other thoughts and concerns which commonly surface. If our community members see something of concern when they see an offender in the community, we encourage them to contact law enforcement if they feel their safety or the safety of another is in question.
Anyone having specific concerns about a sexual offender residing in the city of Rhinelander may contact the Rhinelander Police Department. We will make every effort to address your concerns or properly direct you to the agency that has authority over the offender regarding your specific concern.