Housing Sex Offenders Work Group Meeting – August 3, 2011

In Attendance:  Nick Albano, Hampden County House of Corrections, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire Sherriff’s Office, Steve Connor, Hampshire County VA, Joe Critelli, Hampden County House of Correction, Officer Tracy Duda, Springfield Police Dept., Jessica Galligan, MA Dept. of Correction, Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Jay Levy, Elliot CHS Homeless Services, Officer Luz Lizambar, Springfield Police Dept., Sue Olson, State Parole Office, Robin Powell, Hampden County Sherriff Dept., Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Jen Sordi, Hampden County Sherriff’s Dept/AISS, Jo-Ann Tolliver, Northampton Veterans Medical Center, Sally Van Wright, Women’s Correctional Center, Christopher Zabik, Dept. of Mental Health, Kurt Zellen, Northampton VAMC

Sue Olson of Parole Office for Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties (Intensive Parole for Sex Offenders – IPSO) presented:

Finding housing for sex offenders is extremely difficult.  Best experience with finding housing in Franklin County (thanks to ServiceNet).  Hampden and Hampshire County are very tough.

Nowhere for sex offenders to go; nobody wants them.  No job, no income, no housing.  Incredibly difficult issue.

When on parole, law gives them 24 hours to find a place to live; if no home, must lock them up again.

Sue has never seen a sex offender returned to jail for a sex offense.  Usually substance abuse or failure to register.  NOT sex offense.                                                                                                                                                                            

Officer Duda and Officer Luzambar, Springfield Police Dept. also presented:  594 registered sex offenders in Springfield. All in compliance.  Roughly 50 men use the shelter on a rotating basis.  Right now 20-30 there.

Numbers are going up.  From 2009 to now, 100 more sex offenders.

Officer Duda reviewed Springfield ordinance prohibiting sex offender from living within 500 ft of school.  Discussed registration terms and requirements. Reviewed basis for lifetime parole under SORB.

Housing plus support services plus monitoring: best way at public safety

Hard for sex offenders to be motivated to reenter society since there is nothing for them; still unable to find a job, housing, etc., so less motivated to obtain treatment, fuels the cycle.

Problems with SORB and leveling.  Some should be higher or lower than they are.

Both Parole Officer Sue Olson and Officers Duda and Luzambar expressed willingness to continue to be part of this effort; agreed that appropriate housing for sex offenders is a critical issue to protect public safety.

Next meeting, 9/7, 1:30 pm, DMH, Northampton – agenda will include development of action plan and timeline; Robert Powell will invite Rosa, Springfield landlord who houses a high number of sex offenders; Laurie and Jessica will invite Fred Smith who runs St. Francis House in Boston which also provides housing for sex offenders.

October meeting: Wed., 10/5, 1:00 pm, AISS, Springfield

Will aim for 1st Wednesday of the month, 1 – 2:30 pm, alternating Springfield and Northampton locations.


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