October 23, 2014

Correction Commissioner Halts Placement Of Sex Offenders At Manchester Halfway House

See earlier: Residents Concerned Over Sex Offender Group Home in Manchester
10-23-2014 Connecticut:

The state will not place any more convicted sex offenders in a halfway house that residents have said does not belong in their neighborhood, the state correction commissioner wrote in a letter released Thursday.

"Based on appropriate community concerns," Interim Commissioner Scott Semple wrote to state and local officials, "we are assessing whether this is an appropriate location for placing offenders."

"I do not intend to place any additional individuals at the Clinton Street location from this point forward," Semple wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 20 and received at town hall on Thursday.

East Side residents crowded a meeting with Semple earlier this month, saying they were outraged that the safety of them and their children had been compromised and that neither they nor town officials had been told of the transitional housing facility at Clinton and School streets.

Currently, four sex offenders who have been released from prison live at the home, which is run by Hartford-based Chrysalis Center under contract with the correction department.

"It's a step in the right direction," Mayor Jay Moran said of the correction department's actions. "Are we happy it's not shut down? No. Between myself and [state Sen. Steve Cassano, D-Manchester, and state Rep. Joe Diminico D-Manchester] we're going to stay on top of them, hopefully to the point where they shut it down."

At the meeting with Semple, held on Oct. 6 at the Nathan Hale Building, residents and town leaders criticized the correction department for lack of communication.

"In an effort to improve our current practices that govern transitional housing in the community, we are discussing and reviewing requests for proposals, contract language, length of service terms, as well as avenues for effective communication," Semple wrote in the Oct. 20 letter.

He also offered to start quarterly "safety meetings" with local officials to enhance communication "and discuss issues specific to your community members, allowing for collective solutions."

Correction department officials have said that the sex offenders, some of whom were convicted of first-degree sexual assault, are monitored closely. The house is the correction department's only transitional living facility in Manchester, and without such housing, department officials said, the men would be homeless. The program helps them find work and provides other services to "get them back on their feet in the community," agency spokeswoman Karen Martucci has said.

But Manchester board of directors member Mark Tweedie said Thursday that if the correction department had researched the location and held a public hearing before leasing the home, they would have found that many single women and children live in the neighborhood. Stopping placements of offenders, Tweedie said, "is not a big enough step."

"Ultimately, it needs to go," he said. ..Source.. by JESSE LEAVENWORTH

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