This study examined the impact of Wisconsin's sex-offender notification law on probation and parole agents and their adaptation to the changes in the way sex offenders are managed in the community.
The case study included information from statewide surveys of 128 probation/parole agents and supervisors from units with sex-offender caseloads, which yielded a sample of 77, combined with field observations at the unit and regional levels. The survey consisted of questions regarding the management of sex offenders and their specific responsibilities and tasks as a consequence of the law. Of interest were the external controls, supervision strategies, and special conditions placed on sex offenders in keeping with the mandated containment approach. Several open-ended questions were also included to explore the attitudes of probation/parole agents toward the notification law and specific problems or difficulties in implementing policies and procedures regarding sex offenders. Findings show that although the notification law's primary goal of community protection is being served, as evidenced by the very low recidivism rate for Special Bulletin Notification cases, there is a high cost for corrections in terms of personnel, time, and budgetary resources. Supervision, home visits, collateral contacts with landlords and employers, and escort of sex offenders consume a large portion of the agent's work week. Probation/parole agents also must spend time locating housing in the community for sex offenders who have undergone extended community notification. Implications for future research are discussed. 2 figures, 6 notes, 7 references, and appended violating behaviors listed as grounds for revocation