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Group home to help people convicted of sex crimes

For many people convicted of a sex crime, one thing they will have to do when released from prison is find a place to live. Many find that a social stigma follows them wherever they go. But in Green Bay, a home for convicted sex offenders could change things.

Instead of putting sex offenders back on the street, Wisconsin's Department of Corrections is using a former hotel as a place for offenders to live while getting back on their feet. So far, the program has been successful; residents are not only provided a place to live but also are kept accountable after being released.

The residents are provided with a studio style apartment that includes necessities like a bathroom, kitchen, and living room area. To live in this home, residents pay a dollar a day and consent to unannounced searches. They also have to agree to around-the-clock electronic monitoring.

Offenders may live on the property for up to three months while they search for employment and begin their transition back into society. However, if the residents fail to follow the rules of the housing complex, they may be sent back to prison.

Thus far, state officials say that this facility has been extremely successful in helping offenders safely transition into society. Since the facility opened in 1994, approximately 60 percent of its residents have found jobs and a place to live.

Once they complete the program, offenders must again seek approval from Green Bay officials when they move out of the facility and choose to relocate in the city. But it appears that offenders who have lived in the facility seem better prepared to live on their own again and are more likely to receive approval to relocate.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette online, "Green Bay sex offender home called model for other communities," Scott Williams, 26 March 2011

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