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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Connecticut Is Rethinking Its Policies Toward Jobs and Housing for Sex Offenders Because Shunning and Shaming Leads to New Crimes but Stability and Support Leads to Successful Re-entries Which Means No New Victims


Remember I previously posted about Connecticut taking 2.5 years to study their Sex Offender Registry? 

Well they have already figured out some basic concepts (see the below article) and solutions after only 10 months. 

Nice job ConnecticutNow if Virginia would just study the last 20 years of our Registry, laws and restrictions perhaps we’d move towards a smarter system too. 

Mary Devoy 

 

Connecticut Is Rethinking Its Policies Toward Jobs and Housing for Sex Offenders, June 21, 2016
By Susan Campbell
 

Before she started work at New Haven’s Columbus House as senior manager of housing services, Cathleen Meaden’s job was housing people whose crimes were seemingly unforgivable. 

Her charges were people on the state’s sex offender registry, and when she’d talk to people about her job, the reaction was often not-very-hidden disgust that she worked in close proximity with people who’d committed such heinous crimes.

“There’s an ick factor,” said Meaden. “I have always said I don’t have a warm spot in my heart for sex offenders,” but as Connecticut continues to chip away at the pernicious problem of homelessness, this particular cohort – people who’ve committed crimes that put them on the state’s sex offender registry -- presents a unique challenge. 

Research has shown that the current system – shunning and shaming -- creates precisely the environment least conducive for the prevention of future offenses. 

“The label is the most repulsive, alienating label we have,” said Laurie Guidry, a Massachusetts-based licensed clinical and consulting psychologist who focuses on the treatment of sex offenders, and the prevention of sexual violence. “These are effectively the lepers of our time. The larger concern should be on preventing this from happening in the first place.” 

Appearance on the registry usually means reduced opportunities for jobs and housing, but the population of sex offenders is immensely diverse. Guidry said that a small percentage of offenders commit the horrific stranger-abduction crimes that make the news. 

Of the 5,600 or so people on the state’s registry, no more than 300 could be considered high-risk, said Thomas Ullmann, public defender in New Haven, and co-chair of a 12-member subcommittee that is studying the sentencing of sex offenders in the state. 

Responding to a slew of federal and state initiatives, Connecticut created a sex offender registry in 1998. People who explore the online registry can find people who’ve been convicted of sex offenses by their name, their home town, and the like. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, a Connecticut offender must register for ten years, or for life.
 

What It's Like to Be a Teenage Sex Offender By Jenny Kutner


What It's Like to Be a Teenage Sex Offender, June 20, 2016
By Jenny Kutner

When Ken Thornsberry was in high school, he did something a lot of high school students do: He had sex with his teenage girlfriend. As a result, he spent the bulk of his early adulthood behind bars. 

Thornsberry was an 18-year-old senior when he met his high school girlfriend, Emily Lester, who was a 14-year-old freshman at the time. The pair quickly fell in love and began sleeping together about a month into their relationship. For the following year, they kept their sexual activity a secret from their parents because Lester didn't want to get in trouble with her father. But it was also because they could get in trouble with the law.  

In Michigan, where Thornsberry and Lester both still live, the age of consent is 16. So although Lester maintained she consented to sex with Thornsberry, legally it didn't matter. Technically, every time the couple had sex, Thornsberry was committing a sex crime — one that could land him in prison or on a sex offender registry. Of course, that wasn't something either adolescent considered too carefully at the time. 

 

Public Housing (HUD) Off-Limits to Many of the 600,000 People Returning From Prison Each Year


For Registered Sex Offenders it’s not just HUD Housing as a Federal ban, its SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits, Small Business Loans and earned Veteran’s Benefits. Oh…..and in Virginia Medicare won’t cover Viagra for RSO’s but it will for all other Medicare members. 

Mary
 

Opinion: A Home After Prison, June 21, 2016
By Nicholas Turner, President of the Vera Institute of Justice.

FOR nearly 10 years, Marcus lived in a tiny cell in Sing Sing prison. His wife and children were eager for him to return to their home in public housing in Harlem. After he completed his sentence for attempted armed robbery and possession of stolen property, his parole board said he was ready to rejoin society. But the city’s public housing authority disagreed: Because Marcus — a pseudonym — had a criminal record, he was ineligible to live with his family. 

Nationwide, more than 600,000 people return from prison each year and try to rebuild their lives. The only viable option for many of them is public housing. But local housing authorities across the country write their own rules. And they routinely bar applicants with criminal convictions — and often people with mere arrest records. That means these policies can affect the nearly one in three Americans who have some kind of criminal record. 

Some people are excluded by federal law, specifically certain sex offenders and people who have been convicted of making methamphetamine in public housing. Otherwise, administrators from the nation’s 3,300 public housing authorities, which serve 1.2 million households, are supposed to balance family unity against a person’s potential risk to society as they consider applications. But far too often, they divide families without cause.