August 7, 2011

Offenders must move from Vacaville complex

8-7-2011 California:

For years, Vacaville apartment landlord Darius Mohsenin has worked with state parole officials to place registered sex offenders in his units because it was one of the few local complexes that seemed to meet all the dozens of state compliance criteria.

Now the Leisure Town Road apartment complex has been ruled "out of compliance," because of a previously unknown school -- Heritage Peak Charter School on Orange Drive -- that moved into the area three years ago. Seven tenants have been given just one week to scramble to find other suitable housing before being found in violation of the terms of their parole, Mohsenin is left with vacant units, state parole officials say their hands are tied, and local law enforcement is questioning the wisdom of putting such offenders into transient status.

"The tenants are panicking," Mohsenin said.

"Now you got a bunch of guys who are going who knows where, all because (state) parole is not minding the store," he added, noting that one of his tenants is staying in a van in Napa, afraid of being arrested if he comes home.

"It has always been a very symbiotic relationship between parole and my complex. When they did their sweeps, they could come in and just go door to door and not have to go looking under bridges to find these guys," Mohsenin noted.

He added that the restrictions on where registered offenders and parolees can live are so tight that "it is a very narrow swath for where they can live."

While Mohsenin knows any sympathy at all for his tenants is not likely to be very strong, he insists "these people deserve better."

"I know that's hard for some to accept, but they have rights too," he said. "And this is not right."

One tenant, who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity out of fear of being retaliated against, agreed.

"There's nowhere to stay. I don't know where they expect us to go," the 27-year-old single dad said. He noted that the mandated hasty departure means he is unable to give management 30-day notice and must thereby forfeit his $900 deposit. Because he doesn't qualify for low-income assistance, without having his deposit returned, he said he doesn't know how he's going to make ends meet to come up with the funds for the deposit on a new residence.

Ironically, he is allowed custody of his 3-year-old daughter through the terms of his parole but is still required to keep the prescribed 2,000 feet from schools and parks. The move order has him at a loss over what to do.

"It's kind of hard to find a compliant place," he said before adding that a lot of places that are compliant won't rent to sex offenders because "they don't want that kind of reputation."

"Now we're going to be homeless and sleep in a car," he added. "How are they going to put a kid out on the street?"

State Parole officials note that the law is the law.

And Parole Agent Douglas Eckenrod, who supervises the Fairfield 2 Parole Unit responsible for monitoring gang members and sex offenders on GPS tracking, said it is not necessarily the case that no options are available.

"The issue of housing -- Prop 83 certainly complicates for the parolee -- but there are dozens of available housing options," Eckenrod said. "We're offering (the tenants) some assistance if they're not able to find housing by (the deadline)." He added that parole expects "that all of them are going to find compliant housing within the allotted period of time."

The crackdown on the Vacaville complex came as a result of a compliance reassessment of the complex a few weeks ago. That's when the presence of the charter school, which does not appear on the county's school board website, was brought to the attention of parole, resulting in the ruling.

According to Eckenrod, when the first registered sex offender moved to the complex, compliance checks were performed and it was found to be in compliance. However, since that time, building and general expansion throughout the city have closed in on the free space, bring with it the charter school.

"The landscape is continually changing in California all the time," he said.

Eckenrod said during the county-wide re-review, the Leisure Town apartment complex was the only one found to no longer be in compliance with distance requirements.

"Although it's small, it does meet the criteria of a school," he said of the independent study charter school that features students in grades K-12.

With public safety being the parole department's No. 1 concern, Eckenrod said "the bottom line is we have to enforce the law."

Eckenrod went on to say that all of the sex offender parolees are monitored using GPS tracking devices, which prevents parole agents from losing track of them -- homeless or otherwise.

However, according to Solano County Sheriff Gary Stanton, GPS tracking or not, the idea of having registered sex offenders out on the streets and in transient living situations is less than appealing.

"We prefer to have them avoid a transient situation," he said, noting that he thinks having them living out on the streets is of concern to the community. "I prefer to see parole avoid that in every situation."

He went on to say that his primary concern is the amount of time it requires for parole agents to monitor a computer screen to track the parolee -- time that could otherwise be spent "out in the field." Stanton has hopes that in the future the parole department will find ways to outsource GPS monitoring to free up the agents for more active patrolling.

In the meantime, the tenants have been in contact with an attorney in Martinez in pursuit of a Habeas motion to fight their ouster, though they don't expect any action could be taken in time to beat the state parole deadline for moving.

The issue isn't unique to Vacaville. Across the nation communities are dealing with restrictions that push sex offender parolees away without giving them somewhere to go.

The Sacramento Bee reported last week that a registered sex offender sued the city of Elk Grove for the right to live with his ailing parents. The suit, which was filed June 9 by Michael Steven Escobar who, according to the report, is acting as his own attorney, states that a city ordinance restricting the places he can live is in violation of both state and federal constitutions.

And this isn't the first time that someone has taken task with the issue. The ongoing discussion is being revisited by states across the country and, in 2009, an advisory panel urged lawmakers to reevaluate housing restrictions placed on sex offenders calling them costly and counterproductive. ..Source.. by Catherine Bowen/


Anonymous said...

Its only a matter of time before this slaps the country in the face for these laws and from what i see its wont be to much longer.So much for home of the free!

ttheredbaron said...

The British never treated the American colonists this way. It is time past for a revolutionary response to the tyranists in the US government. Screw this Nazi crap and all who are perpetrating it! And regarding the outsourcing of GPS monitoring, that is pretty simple. They need to be outsourced to the landfill.

Anonymous said...

I know very well that that our government realizes that this kind of BS is WAYYYY over the top. Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I just can't believe that this type of absolute controll is continuing unabated. If officials are going to require these FSO's to be treated like this they should pay for what they consider ACCEPTABLE
housing for these HUMAN BEINGS. They did the crime and have done the time. This BS is all rooted in HATE and PAYBACK. Well our government aint supposed to work like that. Man, this is getting TERRIBLE. Someone has has to do something.

Just another SO said...

This isn't new...I know of several people who were forced to move out of homes that they OWNED, because one of their neighbors decided to open a daycare within the proscribed zone. Fortunatly, the State of Montana has removed that proscription from thier laws. But that doesn't stop local ordinances from being enacted.
However, I did speak with a state represenative this weekend and asked him some questions about AWA and SORNA. I think I might have broken the ice, especially when I pointed out that compliance with these acts would cost the state more then they would lose in Federal funds if they didn't comply.
This is what it's going to take. We, RSO's, are going to have to take it to our represenatives. Local, State, Federal. We need to get in thier face and point out to them that we are people too. We need to show them the facts that RSO's are the least likely to reoffend of any "criminal" class. We need to point out to them the hardships we face on a daily basis because of these acts and laws. WE need to act, because no one else will.

Daniel Goichman said...

dont lose your spirits enough lawsuits against these states and tehy wont even be able to protect themselves. take them down one lasuit at a time