Work Group to House People with Sex Offense Histories
September 9, 2015
In attendance: Elizabeth Bienz, ServiceNet, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Department/DOC Re-entry program, Wendy Coco, Commonwealth Care, Joe Critelli, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Laurie Guidry, MATSA, Phyllis Lutsky, VAMC, Pamela Schwartz, Network
Updates from Laurie Guidry:
The Statewide Commission to Reduce Sex Offender Recidivism will be holding public hearings later this fall prior to issuing its report at the beginning of 2016. We all agreed that the Network would participate in those hearings to the extent possible (there is a push for a Western MA location to be included) to ensure our perspective and agenda were communicated. Laurie reported that the Commission meetings thus far have been worthwhile and gave very nice feedback around the Network presentation last May.
Pamela also received outreach from the Criminal Policy Justice Coalition, based in Boston, which is organizing statewide input on the Commission process. We will continue to be in touch with them and participate in their effort.
We all acknowledged the significance of the recent MA court case that struck down residency restrictions in Lynn, MA, and the implications that will have across the state. The Springfield city council committee was meeting today to have an initial discussion of the court case’s impact on its residency restrictions, and we will follow-up on what happened.
Laurie also shared that she presented on a SAMHSA sponsored webinar on the challenge of housing sex offenders. We all agreed that the fact that this issue is receiving federal agency attention is a positive indication of the movement towards evidence-based change. Thanks to Laurie for providing such expertise to the effort.
Laurie also provided an update on the MA SJC decision striking down absolute bans of sex offenders from nursing homes. The decision had been “held” due to some court proceedings and now is being publicly released. This is good news.
The issue of HUD policy around whether it allows housing sex offenders in permanent supportive housing was raised. There is debate around the interpretation of their policy to the extent it is unnecessarily excluding sex offenders. We will look into this further.
It was agreed that we would be in touch via email around our next meeting date whicih would in part be determined by next steps in participating in the Commission process.