Housing Sex Offenders Discharge Meeting – November 9, 2011

In attendance:  Carl Cignoni, DOC Reentry-Hampshire Sheriff’s office, Joe Critelli, Hampden County Sheriff, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Patrick Devine, Hampden County Sheriff, Hwei-Ling Greeney, Amherst Community Connections, Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Ellie Harris, ServiceNet, Richard Hendricks, Eliot-CHS Homeless Services, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Anne McMahon, Northampton Police Dept., Kelly Przypek, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept/AISS
Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Reikka Simla Gooden, Housing for All, Laurie Smith, ServiceNet, Chris Zabik, DMH, Kurt Zellen, VAMC

Brainstorm around next steps/workplan development

Lauire Guidry:  Who are the stakeholders we want around the table?  To create a pilot housing project: who do we want to connect with?  Who needs to be here?

One potential partner:  faith based communities (inspired by St. Francis talk), e.g., monastery group,  UU Society, provides legitimacy, furthers public safety model

Jay Levy:  Can St. Francis House be a program to emulate – reach out to Fred Smith (director) around how to create such a piece.

Joe Critelli – every week, there is  group Residents Encounter Christ (REC), comes to prison, meets with 30-40 inmates – can explore connection with this group

If we have a coalition of representation, we would then look at each coalition contributor to see what role they can play.  For pilot to work, needs to be network, needs to be community, volunteer resources.

Jay Levy:  need outreach component, case manager who is skilled with dealing with sex offenders, oversight, facilitation.

Lauirie Guidry: a kind of “sponsorship” so each individual is making connections.

There is housing piece, treatment as management piece, connection piece, employment piece.  Look at spectrum at St. Francis House and Rosa’s.

Joe Critelli:  Chaperone training program under Limestone Technology.   Designed a training program free of charge that

Danielle DeBerry:  College Church, a faith based community, great supporters for sex offenders as social connection as well as helping with jobs and employment.  Hampshire County Friends of the Homeless, collaboration, most faith-based organizations.  Co-runs cot shelter in Northampton.  Established 2 housing first communities (1 with no sex offenders).

Sgt. Anne McMahon:  educating first is vital – business leaders have instinct to fire upon discovery that person is sex offender – need to educate that this is not in their or community’s interest.

Laurie:  need to reach out and make relationships – validate concern but educate about best way forward – “be tough but be smart” – use evidence based practices to build public safety effectively.

Sgt. Anne McMahon:  DA just received grant to provide greater monitoring of high risk sex offenders.

Richard Hendricks:  reach out to Landlords in faith-based communities, call on them to reach out.

Amherst shelter  – Craigs Doors – Jerry Gates is president, and he is a socially conscious landlord – reach out to him.

Laurie:  what about putting together a symposium, summit – reach out to faith-based communities to bring them together to talk about this.  People with authority to make decisions about whether to participate.  Educate.

Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Sherriff’s: check with Fred Smith of St. Francis House about whether he is interested in expanding to Western Mass.  Also, Carl could work with half-way houses to be more open to accepting sex offenders.  Would need to deal with issues of other inmates around sex offenders among the other residence.    Will open discussion with half-way houses about their concerns.

Ideally:  faith based communities could provide support/back-up to half-way houses.  Also consider Salvation Army.

Need to combine compassion and accountability – can co-exist.

Consensus:  create education/information forum for faith-based representatives with aim for concrete results around pilot, etc.  Could be first in a series of meetings.  Not too large and with people who have authority to speak on behalf of their community.

Brainstorm of attendees:

Peter Ives, Reverend of First Churches
Father Stan Aksamit
Pastor Greg Mozel, First Baptist Church
Pastor Rob Hirsh, Grace Episcopal Church
Pastor Rob, Mercy House
Pastor ?, Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Rev. Alison Woller, UU Amherst
Bishop Timothy McDonald, diocese of Springfield
Yvonne Frecerro, Rick Hart, Hampshire County Friends of the Homeless
College Church
Rev. Audrey?, Easthampton Congregational Church
Rev. Andrea Avayzian, Haydenville Congregational Church
Pastor Greg Dyson, Springfield
Bill Toller, REC
James Gill, own church in Springfield
Kevin Noonan, Jerry Gates, Amherst
College Church  – Danielle DeBerry will get contact

Invite Fred of St. Francis and Rosa of Springfield to attend and speak about their experiences.

Craft mission statement to group, draft letter.  “Balancing public safety with humanity.”

Pamela and Laurie will draft and distribute invitation letter before Thanksgiving.  Will bring draft agenda to next meeting  (12/14, 1-2:30 pm, AISS, Kelly will confirm space)

Group will be prepared to distribute invitations immediately following meeting.

Carl Cignoni will make contact with College Church re: space to meet and outreach; aim for mid-late Jan. gathering.

Next meeting:
Wednesday, December 14
1:00 – 2:30
AISS, 736 State Street, Springfield (location to be confirmed)

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