Concern grows over former motel being used to house nearly 10 sex offenders in Rock County

Leaders in the Town of Harmony in Rock County say they’re concerned over a former motel that is now being used to house multiple sex offenders.

The Jessie Crawford Rehabilitation was opened in the former Pine Tree Inn along U.S.-14 near Janesville several years ago, according to CEO and President James Crawford.

Crawford said the state had approached him about expanding his drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, which he had operating in Madison since 2012, to Rock County.

“I was approached by our contract manager with the Department of Corrections about the need of sober housing of Rock County,” he said.

Chairman of the Town of Harmony board Jeff Klenz said he remembered the idea being proposed.

“I had heard that the motel was going to be sold and possibly turned into an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center,” he said. “But then that was the last that I had heard of that.”

Klenz said he had all but forgotten about the proposal until someone in the community expressed concern about an offender being located to the area.

“When we started looking into that a little further, we found that 10 of them were living in the old Pine Inn on Highway 14,” he said.

Crawford said to his knowledge, eight of the 16 available beds at the center are currently occupied by former sex offenders. He says almost all sex offenders housed at the center have been recommended by the Department of Corrections.

“My belief is that sex offenders need a place to live like anyone else in our community,” he said. “In a situation like this, at least they’re monitored.”

Crawford said in addition to a full-time house manager monitoring those living at the facility, all members are tested for drugs and alcohol, and checked up on regularly.

“I think the services we provide are needed. I think they do help people become successful in their reentry into the community, that’s what we’re about,” he said.

Yet Klenz is concerned over whether the building’s conditional use permit has changed from the days it operated as a motel.

Crawford says he would be willing to meet with the town board if necessary.

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