Neighbors upset over plan to house sex offenders

Neighbors upset over plan to house sex offenders

Plans for sex offenders to move into a rental property on Madison’s north side have residents looking for a way out of the neighborhood.

“They want to put a whole building full of sex offenders. You’re dangling our kids as eye candy,” said Lori Hanson, who lives on West Karstens Drive.

It’s a fear Hanson has never had in the eight years she has lived in the Vera Court Community with her grandson Xavier, but now she is thinking of packing her bags.

“What happens if one of them walks out the door one day and just happens to say, ‘I want to grab one of them.’ I’m not willing to take any risk,” Hanson said.

Residents received a flier from the Madison Police Department this week informing them a man convicted of multiple sexual assaults involving minors will be moving into an apartment in the area. His new home is located feet away from where other children live and half a mile from Mendota Elementary School. The flier also mentioned the man has the potential to offend again. A second notice from the department also mentioned the same building would be used for other sexual offenders to move into in the future, something the area’s alder is trying to stop.

“I’m still hoping that there will be a law that applies to prevent this, or perhaps we need a law to prevent this,” said Anita Weier, alder for District 18.

Madison’s Child Safety Zone Ordinance prohibits convicted sexual offenders from being within 250 feet of schools, playgrounds and day care centers. The ordinance does not include restrictions on how far offenders can live from a home with children.

“Pretty much they are OK with someone messing with the child. Because you put them in the middle of families — and it’s hard for people who have drug convictions and things to get into places — but a sex offender can live anywhere,” Shameka Fladgers, mother of three, said.

Fladgers, her husband and their daughters live next door to the rental property where the offenders are scheduled to move. That leaves only one choice for her family, in her opinion.

“We are at home all the time by ourselves, so I’m not going to be able to sleep. That would be constantly on my mind. So it’s either, if they move in, we have to move out,” she said.

It’s a fear Hanson said residents shouldn’t have to worry about in their own neighborhood.

“We don’t have weapons in our homes and we don’t want to feel like we have to do that, but we are going to get to the point where we have to protect our children some kind of way. If they are not going to do it, who is?” Hanson said.

A community notification meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Vera Court neighborhood center. According to the Department of Corrections website, the meeting will not prevent the release or placement of an offender.