Lakeland seeks ban on sex offenders

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Darryl Enriquez
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
— A proposal to exclude registered sex offenders from living at the county nursing home will be considered Wednesday by the nursing home board of trustees.

Administrator Bernadette Janiszewski will ask the board to decide if registered sex offenders should be barred from admission to the county-run nursing home to protect nursing home residents and rehabilitating patients.

"It's a changing world. We wouldn't have needed this a few years ago," Janiszewski explained when asked why she raised the issue.

Lakeland Health Care Center's board will consider the policy at 1 p.m. Wednesday during its regular meeting.

The idea took root for Janiszewski last summer in a newsletter from the Wisconsin Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. An article raised the issue of checking sex offender registries to discover if an applicant is a registered sex offender.

Janiszewski will ask the board if a criminal background check also should be done to provide a more complete check of whether an applicant is a registered sex offender. The cost is $10 for a criminal background check, and the registries are available on the Internet for free.

The board, if it wants a criminal background check, will decide who pays the $10—an applicant or the county, she said.

The Walworth County Corporation Counsel's Office advised that a policy denying admission to a registered sex offender could be developed "because a sex offender is not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 or the State Wisconsin Open Housing Law."

Those laws protect applicants from discrimination for the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or handicap.

The policy would have to be approved by the center's board.

If the checks are approved, the following statement would be added to the center's admission agreement:

"It is the philosophy of Lakeland Health Care Center that all who enter and reside within the facility will feel at no risk being cared for by, or having contact with, any person who is a registered sex offender. Therefore, Lakeland Health Care Center shall deny admission to registered sex offenders. Walworth County shall conduct criminal background checks on each applicant prior to admission."

Janiszewski said the center has not experienced any incidents of abuses by sex offenders.

Criminal background checks are performed, as required by state law, every four years on the center's staff, she said.

The center has 120 beds, 15 of which are for rehabilitation.

The state has provided a sex offenders registry since 1997. It includes automated information of sex offenders who are required to register with the state Department of Corrections to help the agency monitor their locations.

Last updated: 3:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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