EagleHerald Editor

MARINETTE—The Marinette County 980 Committee, which is faced with the task of finding housing for a violent sex offender, met in closed session for a little more than 30 minutes Wednesday morning.

The panel returned to open session only to approve a motion that reads, “Authorize corporation counsel to submit recommendation/report as discussed in closed session to DHS and the court.”

The purpose of the 980 Committee is to find housing for a 980 violent sex offender who must be placed in Marinette County. The county received notice Feb. 10 that an offender (James Harris, 52) from the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, Wis., will be released to Marinette County. That center houses “Chapter 980” offenders, which according to state statutes are labeled “Sexually Violent Person Commitments.”

Wisconsin Chapter 980, which took effect in 1994, allows civil commitment and treatment for certain sex offenders after they complete criminal sentences. For many years after Chapter 980 took effect, violent sex offenders have faced hurdles finding places to live. In 2017, Act 184 was adopted which required counties where the offenders were convicted to find suitable housing after they have completed their prison sentences.

The 980 committee previously met May 27 and was still struggling to find a location. “We continue to search for a vendor who will enter into a lease with DHS (Department of Health Services),” County Administrator John Lefebvre said following that meeting.

If the county can’t find housing, it could face monetary sanctions up to $1,000 per day.