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. Credit: Nora G. Hertel / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journailsm

About this series

The Center’s Nora Hertel teamed up with Gilman Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio on “Rethinking Sex Offenders,” a three-day series examining Wisconsin’s changing methods of dealing with sexually violent persons. The series reveals that officials have nearly quadrupled the number of offenders released from state custody after they were committed as sexually violent persons. It also includes a rare glimpse inside the walls of Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston.


AUDIO

Podcast: On the indefinite commitment of ‘sexually violent persons’

Halsted and Hertel talk with multimedia director Kate Golden about their visit to Sand Ridge, a place that looks like a prison from the outside and a hospital on the inside. Listen now


PHOTO GALLERY

Inside Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center


Take a virtual tour of Sand Ridge, where reporters Nora Hertel and Gil Halsted were the first journalists since 2007 to tour the facility.

DAY 1

Wisconsin freeing more sex offenders from mental lockup

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. Feb. 2, 2014
• Listen: Number of sex offenders released from Mauston treatment center increases dramatically Wisconsin Public Radio, Jan. 31, 2014

DAY 2

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. Feb. 3, 2014
• Listen: Inside Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center Wisconsin Public Radio, Feb. 3, 2014

DAY 3

A decade after completing his prison sentence, sex offender awaits second chance

Eric Hendrickson, 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. Feb. 4, 2014
• Listen: Treatment Center Works To Discern Mental Illness From Drug Addiction Wisconsin Public Radio, Feb. 4, 2014

Data visualizations

Who’s inside

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How many got out

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