August 11, 2011

Mansfield officials say they knew nothing about transitional housing unit

8-11-2011 Ohio:

3 sex offenders had not registered with Mansfield police

MANSFIELD -- City officials say they knew nothing about a month-old transitional housing unit for ex-criminals until informed Tuesday by the News Journal.

The Community Residential Center, 303 W. Fifth St., opened July 1 and houses three men who are convicted sex offenders.

Interim Safety-Service Director Phil Messer said he's disgusted by the whole situation.

"I feel that the (Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation) was purposely trying to keep this all quiet," said Messer, the city's former police chief and an outspoken critic of sex offender assistance programs in Mansfield. "No one knew about this. I didn't know, the mayor didn't know, the law director didn't know, the judges didn't know and our police chief didn't know.

"If they told someone they were coming here, I'd like to know who it was."

The 21-bed facility is operating out of the former Crossroads Center for Change. Although Crossroads was a halfway house that provided rehabilitation services, the Community Residential Center helps homeless offenders who have completed their prison time transition back into society. One of the goals is to help them find employment.

The program is operated by Nothing Into Something Real Estate Inc. The facility is licensed and funded by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

On Wednesday, Messer said he visited the center and told sex offenders David Byer, 40; Anthony Curtis Bibb, 37; and Brian Paul Hanna, 46, that they were violating the city's felon registration requirements.

Although the three provided their information for the Richland County Sex Offender Registry last week, Messer said they also had to register with the Mansfield Police Department. If not, they would be arrested.

All three said they were unaware of the additional mandate and adhered to the requirements.

Messer still wasn't satisfied.

"I'm very upset with the ODRC," he said. "This community does not need any more centers to treat offenders. And for them to open this facility without even seeking our input is not right. If this place stands, people here need to contact the governor."

Messer said Mansfield Law Director Dave Remy is researching the facility's statutes to see if any violations have occurred. He said the city should know more by the end of this week.

Carlo LoParo, communications supervisor for the ODRC, said the state pays about $32 a day for each offender.

According to Michele Johnson, CEO of NISRE, offenders at the center must return to their city of origin at the end of their stay -- usually 90 days. However, extensions are permitted.

"Even if they find employment here, they still have to return to their own city when 90 days is up," Johnson said. "That's just how it works."

Hanna, convicted of raping a young girl, said he was transferred to Mansfield from a Columbus unit, also operated by the NISRE, and has already received an extension on his stay.

"It's a lot more peaceful in Mansfield than where I was in Columbus," he said. "It allows us more of a chance to get our thoughts together."

Hanna said he has a medical condition and cannot work.

"This is all about money," Messer said. "I'll bet 90 days is the maximum amount of time the ODRC can use taxpayer dollars for each guy."

According to Messer, Johnson told him Wednesday she would fax him paperwork verifying that she did inform city officials of the incoming program. But by the end of the day Wednesday, the paperwork still had not arrived, he said. ..Source.. by Jami Kinton, News Journal

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Messer why dont you holster your mouth and let people have the chance at inproving there lives.I think this is a great thing thats happening and i wish those guys the best of luck.