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August 23, 2014

Residency restrictions keep NY sex offenders confined after serving their senetence

The problematic consequences of some sex offender residency restrictions is highlighted in this recent New York Times article headlined "Housing Restrictions Keep Sex Offenders in Prison Beyond Release Dates." Here is how the article starts:

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York State are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that governs where they can live.

The law, which has been in effect since 2005, restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school. Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.

But in February, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which runs the prisons and parole system, said the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits because of the proximity of schools.

The new interpretation has had a profound effect in New York City, where only 14 of the 270 shelters under the auspices of the Department of Homeless Services have been deemed eligible to receive sex offenders. But with the 14 shelters often filled to capacity, the state has opted to keep certain categories of sex offenders in custody until appropriate housing is found.

About 70 of the 101 sex offenders being held are New York City residents, prison authorities said. Some have begun filing habeas corpus petitions in court, demanding to be released and claiming the state has no legal authority to hold them.

The onus of finding a suitable residence upon release is on the sex offender; the state authorities will consider any residence proposed, but will reject it if it is too close to a school or violates other post-release supervision conditions.

Before February, those who could not find suitable housing would typically be released to shelters like the men’s intake center at 30th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan, once known as the Bellevue Men’s Shelter. But the corrections department changed its approach this year, after reports by a state senator, Jeffrey D. Klein, detailing how sex offenders were living within 1,000 feet of a school, often in homeless shelters. Prison authorities say they are holding the sex offenders until the shelter system notifies them of additional space in the few shelters far enough away from schools, such as on Wards Island.

August 23, 2014 at 01:55 PM | Permalink


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I cannot believe there aren't any lawyers ready to ream the system of millions of dollars for the blatantly unconstitutional incarceration, at least for those whose absolute sentences are over. I don't believe I've heard of anything more blatant than this. To throw salt on this wound, the technically EX-offender does not have the right to court-appointed legal representation at this time, because he is technically not a criminal at this point.

Again, the irrational response to the legacy of the Smith v. Doe registration decision in 2003. To

Posted by: Eric Knight | Aug 23, 2014 4:08:40 PM

Will these sex offenders start raising hell inside their prisons the way inmates once did to protest preventive detention laws over forty years ago at the Tombs? If they have technically completed their sentences, they should not have to obey the same rules as inmates who have not yet completed their sentences. Let's see if we have any major tests of civil disobedience or not-so-civil disobedience by these ex-inmates.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Aug 24, 2014 2:33:28 PM

One more thing, what about FEMALE sex offenders who have completed their sentences and cannot find a residence within the restriction guidelines?

Posted by: william r. delzell | Aug 24, 2014 2:35:18 PM

To the black pajamed baboons on the Supreme Court and most federal courts:

I am proud to be an American - NOT!

Thank you for your continually absurd and inhumane mental gymnastics to try to justify the worst SC decision ever, Smith vs. Doe - 2003. Keep on polishing that POS and we will all tremble at who's next. All you have demonstrated is how foolish you really are and the absurdity of depending on "The LAW" to protect your inalienable human rights, along with the worthlessness of most lawyers.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 24, 2014 3:39:05 PM

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