So goes the headline of this Boston Globe story.
Nearly three years after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state could post the names, addresses, and photos of the most dangerous sex offenders on a public website, sex offenders released from prison now often end up in homeless shelters, where it is difficult to track them, and a range of potential victims sleep nearby.
In a recent review of 77 Level 3 sex offenders — the category the state uses to define those with a high risk of committing sex crimes again — who list addresses in Boston on the state’s online registry, the Globe found that 65 percent reported they were living at homeless shelters.
This problem is caused by several factors: legislation, perception and lack of supervision. It also brings problems of its own.
“This is a critical issue of grave concern,” said Jim Greene , director of the city’s Emergency Shelter Commission. “Large, crowded homeless shelters are a militantly anti therapeutic milieu for people with mental health or other behavior problems. They’re just not a place for a Level 3 sex offender to reintegrate into society.”He and other advocates for the homeless fault the state for more talk than action to keep sex offenders off the streets.
Greene pointed to an unrealized five-year-old plan the state Department of Correction provides to shelters and other agencies that house recently released prisoners. Former convicts deemed at risk of committing more crimes, it says, should have “risk reduction plans” that include applications for specialized housing, special workshops to help them get jobs and medical services; and supervision after their release.
But sex offenders released from prison often find themselves boxed out from housing. Charles McDonald , a spokesman for the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board, acknowledged the reentry centers are not able to help most sex offenders find housing. “Having a home to live in is extremely important for a sex offender to reintegrate,” McDonald said. “This is a problem that should be addressed on the grand scale.”
Absolutely. This is the problem with these harsh sex offender laws. We want to punish them, but do not want to deal with the very real consequences of the laws. Where, indeed, should they live? I don’t see any solutions being proposed and till then, this problem will continue to grow.
Technorati Tags: sex offenders, residency restrictions