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Housing the Homeless Sex Offender

Posted on 08 January 2010

by Karl Grossman

How to provide housing for homeless registered sex offenders in Suffolk remains a knotty problem. In recent years the county has placed them in trailers in Westhampton and Riverside —resulting in complaints from area residents. Southampton and Riverhead Towns brought lawsuits over the placements.

County officials have now come up with a new plan: the purchase of industrial buildings to be renovated for housing for the homeless sex offenders. This way, ostensibly, the offenders would be in industrial areas away from residences and, most specifically, children who some might molest, it is feared. The sex offenders include those in legal categories which identifies them as likely to repeat their crimes.

Among the industrial sites being eyed by the Department of Social Services are several in the Town of Babylon: in East Farmingdale, West Babylon and Wyandanch. But DuWayne Gregory, the county legislator who represents these areas, wrote just before Christmas to 300 civic and religious leaders: “We have enough homeless/emergency housing shelters, Section 8 housing, sober homes, etc. We do not need an entire homeless sex offender shelter dumped in our community, too.”

He has also suggested that the arranging of the housing for sex offenders in his district could be retribution for his clashing with County Executive Steve Levy. Mr. Levy emphatically denies that. And Social Services Commissioner Gregory Blass emphasizes that the locations in the Gregory district, some near cemeteries, the Babylon Town landfill and Republic Airport, were picked because of being in industrial locations distant from residential areas.

Race could be exacerbating sensitivity on the issue. Mr. Gregory is the only elected black Suffolk County official and his district has a large African-American population, especially Wyandanch. People in that hamlet for years complained, correctly, about not being properly served by town government.

Still, the county’s idea to use renovated industrial buildings for housing for registered sex offenders is, theoretically a good one. It’s “a great move,” comments Mason Haas, a Riverhead Town tax assessor active in protesting the trailer for sex offenders in Riverside. It is in the parking lot of the county jail, but across the Peconic River from Riverhead.

The Department of Social Services is applying for a grant from the state’s Homeless Housing Assistance Program to pay for purchasing and renovating the buildings. They would also serve as emergency housing for other homeless populations here. The homeless registered sex offenders, however, constitute the problematic category. There aren’t many: approximately 30, depending on the time period, out of 850 registered sex offenders in Suffolk.

In 2007, the county after having housed the offenders in motels, set up its first trailer for homeless registered sex offenders. It sits on Old Country Road in Westhampton on county property near the Suffolk County Police Department’s shooting range. County officials pledged in 2007 that the trailer would be moved every several weeks to different parts of Suffolk. That never happened.

The Westhampton trailer, instead, began being used for “overflow” from a bigger trailer set up the next year in Riverside. At a forum on the Riverside trailer, held last January at Riverhead High School, 300 people jeered county representatives. There were complaints about trailer residents coming into town and of one being arrested for indecent exposure. The locations nearby of schools and the Riverhead library were also noted. County officials stressed that Suffolk was mandated by the state to provide emergency housing for the homeless sex offenders. “Send them to Plum Island!” shouted one audience member.

State Senator Kenneth LaValle observed at the event: “In my years of experience, with the number of citizens who came out on a night like tonight, it’s rare that there will not be a solution of some sort.” The use of industrial buildings is the county’s attempted “solution.”

Dr. Richard Kreuger, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University who specializes in the management and treatment of sex offenders, has said that “sex offenders are almost labeled as nuclear waste; nobody wants them in their backyard.”

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10 Responses to “Housing the Homeless Sex Offender”

  1. http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com

    I am totally against ANY form of abuse to any human being. And I believe anyone who murders another human being should be in prison for the rest of their life (until they die). I do not believe in the death penalty for anyone. Also, I believe that once a person has been in and out of prison and has served their probation and parole, done everything required of them, and what was signed on the “contract” when they took the plea, none of this should be required of them, none of it. The state cannot tear up a contract like this, which they are basically doing, it’s unconstitutional. Many people, if they had known they would be faced with all this, they would have NOT taken a plea deal. And the courts are very aware of this and this is why they made it retroactive; thus violating ex-post facto laws! They should be allowed to get on with their life as if nothing happened. I’m not saying for it to be removed from their record, but, the crime should be removed from public view and background checks, they should not have any more restrictions, shaming, etc. If they commit another crime, then they face a lot more punishment, like everything else is treated.

    When are we going to move away from being “TOUGH ON CRIME” and move to being “SMART ON CRIME?” If you locked every single sex offender up, at this moment, or killed every one of them, do you think the problem is over? No, more will follow.

    I’ve heard many people say “If these laws protect one child, then they are worth it!” And at the same time, if millions are tortured, it’s ok. Offenders are losing their homes, jobs, families, and children and cannot find new jobs or homes due to the insanity of these laws. The families are also made into outcasts for associating with or being related to an ex-offender and their own children are harassed and bullied at schools due to a family member being an ex-offender.

    I know these laws are a sensitive issue, but as all issues, they must be discussed and we must come up with a valid solution that will work. The laws, as they exist now, DO NOT WORK! People are always saying they cause unintended consequences. These laws have been on the books for years now, so nothing is unintended anymore. When are we going to set aside fear, hate, rage and anger and come up with a real solution? History has proven that these feelings NEVER get good laws passed but only create bad ones that punish and torture many people. These knee-jerk reactions to a slim number of high-profile crimes, like Adam Walsh and Jessica Lunsford, MUST STOP!

    When an ex-offender is forced to move from his/her home, thus having to sell it, cannot find another home within the law due to the residency “buffer” zones, get fired from their jobs due to being on the registry, cannot find a new job due to being on the registry, their husband/wife lose their jobs due to a significant other being on the registry, their children lose their friends and are harassed and bullied in school due to a family member being on the registry, thus destroying the children’s lives, ex-offenders are forced into homelessness and to live under bridges, harassed by police, neighbors and probation/parole officers, have to wear “I’m a sex offender T-shirt” or have a neon green license plate on ALL their cars, have “sex offender” on their drivers license and forced to renew their licenses every year, forced from shelters during tornadoes or hurricanes, cannot give blood at some places due to being discriminated against for being on the sex offender registry, denied housing due to being on the registry, signs placed in their yards inviting harassment and ridicule from the neighbors, forced to move when the neighbors start picketing outside the ex-offenders home, the list is endless.

    I THINK THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BEYOND THE EXTREME!

  2. Valerie Parkhurst says:

    Those states dealing with “Homelessness” should look at exactly “who” is their defintion of “homeless”. In Florida where I am, I have a disproportionate amount of Homeless sex offenders that in fact have committed their crimes in other states. I have researched interstate compact laws and the common denominator of offenders transferring out of states are they need a “plan” for jobs and living arrangements.If that job or their living arrangements vaporizes, why do I foot the bill for them? It seems my Department of Corrections doesnt want to take the energy or the time to invest in the paperwork returning offenders to their “home states”. A state such as mine cannot afford to rationally and humanely deal with this issue, if my state citizens have the responsibility of housing, feeding and clothing offenders from all other states north. Add on top of that the fact Florida is as much a border state as California or Arizona, and its a recipe for disaster. In Dade county alone, the majority of convicted sex offenders are Hispanic and The United States is NOT their country of origin. Add on top of that if their Cuban which many are, “we have no formal relations” with Cuba so therefore cant deport them. Its a vicious cycle and yet my neighbors, my families are expected to accomadate these people? As I right this, some politicians solutions to alleviating “Homelessness” is to lower the residency restrictions. You almost have to laugh if it wasnt so insane. Trying to fit 10 lbs. of sex offenders in a 1Lb bag isnt working. If we dont approach this issue with methodical and rational common sense, what will happen in 3 years? 5 Years? when Florida has run out of places for these men to live and yet more are allowed in everyday? Our legisalors need to go back to square one. Mandating offenders register for life is rediculous, offenders who walk the straight and narrow and were not convicted of a violent sexual offense, need the ability to petition to be removed from the registry after 10 years. True Romeo’s need to be removed NOW. Criminal alien offenders need to be kept incarcerated or deported PERIOD. No gain time, no early release for violent repeat offenders and longer sentencing guidelines, a moritorium against offenders who requesting transfer into other states.. We cannot continue on this path, its not fair to the offenders and its not fair to Families.

  3. ROARForTruth says:

    Sex Offender Issues:

    What do you think about those sex offenders who bash their own victims or the victims of others, do you think that is right?

    Do you think its okay to use the registry to bash a registered sex offender?

    Thanks. Here is something I wrote up last yr about the Homeless offenders living under the Miami Bridge:

    http://roarfortruth.blogspot.com/2009/09/sosen-village.html

  4. Eden mor says:

    Not too sure how I found this blog but glad I did find it. Think I was looking for something else on yahoo. Not sure I agree 100% with what you say, but have bookmaked and will pop back to read to see if you add any more posts. Keep up the good work.

  5. Martin Ott says:

    This is a I love most of the articles that have been written, and especially the comments posted! I will come back!

  6. Steve says:

    Mason Haas is a self serving wannabe political hack, I just suggest the people of riverhead keep a very close eye on him and all his close colleagues and relatives that happen to work in the clerks office….a real close eye

  7. We have operated a transitional Faith based housing program in Boise, Idaho for 10 years now. The success of the program is highly recognized by the Department of Parole and Corrections. Check out our web page.

    It is an interesting fact that of all sex offenders only 3-5% ever re offend. ( Department of Justice figures. )The sad fact is most sex offenses are new. This says a great deal about what is happening to our communities and with in our families. Internet, T.V. Porn is every where.

    The Fear problem should be of those who are not known rather than those known. Rarely are sex offenses done by strangers. I believe in registration of violent repeat offenders. Treatment does work. Every offender should be required a treatment program. “SANE Solutions” here in Boise offer a good program of treatment.

    We encourage education of the public to the real truth in this and then work for a workable program. We need to work for Redemptive Justice for people. Many talented folk are lost in the present system. Justice is not being served presently.

    If you have any questions feel free to be in contact with us. bethelministries.net

  8. Amanda King says:

    TAKE THE PUBLIC SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY DOWN
    SHORT LINK TO THE PETITION
    http://bit.ly/f7Z4MJ

    If anyone you love has had their life train-wrecked by the Public Sex Offender Registry. If you are sick of being shamed, humiliated, degraded and banished from society by the in sanity of the public sex offender registry.. If you cannot afford an attorney to fight for your rights.. at least make an effort to say YOU WILL NOT STAND TO BE HUMILIATED AND DEGRADED LIKE THIS.
    Sign this petition.. We will send this petition to Washington… Your Voice can be heard.
    You can sign the petition and click the checkbox to allow your signature to remain hidden from public view, if you’d like.

  9. michael says:

    Once a sex offender has done their time and completed treatment and all requirements of parole or probation, they should not have to be put on a list for public view. This practice is devistating to them and their families.


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