Sex offender awaits second chance

Dianne Hendrickson and her son Eric, a sex offender confined to Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, inside the visiting area. The state committed Eric as a sexually violent person in 2002. The Hendricksons believe he has been denied discharge from the facility for rule infractions unrelated to the risk he poses to the community as a sex offender. Dianne Hendrickson is eager to see her son come home: “I have never prayed or wished for anything more than that.”

Day 3. Eric, 39, has been locked up for more than half his life. He finished his criminal sentence and was committed to the state as a sexually violent person in 2002. He has been confined more than twice as long as his original sentence and is now held for the future risk he poses, not for past crimes.

Inside the walls of Sand Ridge: ‘We have a huge challenge here’

From the outside, Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center looks like a maximum security prison. Inside, more than 300 men live there, committed there by juries and judges throughout the state as “sexually violent persons.” The challenge, for staff, is to treat and reintegrate them into communities.

Wisconsin freeing more sex offenders from mental lockup

Larry, here at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, left the facility this past December on supervised release. He was confined for 19 years, most of them after he completed his criminal sentence for a sexual assault. He said he considers the commitment law “double jeopardy,” as offenders face a civil trial after they complete their criminal sentences. Sand Ridge officials asked that the Center not publish the last names of the offenders to whom it granted access, due to concerns about medical privacy.

Wisconsin officials have nearly quadrupled the number of offenders released from state custody after they were committed as sexually violent persons. The risks to residents are reasonable, officials say, because the state’s treatment programs are working and new data suggest these offenders are less likely to reoffend than previously thought.