August 10, 2015

State pulling the plug on Wilmington Sex Offender House

UPDATE: Sex offender house funding pulled by state
8-10-15 North Carolina:

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Less than a year after launching a program to help male sex offenders transition back into society, the state is phasing out a program that sent dozens of sex offenders to Wilmington after their release from prison.

This comes just one month after WECT broke the news about the recovery house just outside of Downtown Wilmington. Many of the people living in this neighborhood full of children had no idea they were living next to a halfway house for sex offenders.

The All Family Recovery House has been in operation for 9 years, helping a range of people in need of transitional housing. In October, AFRH went under contract with the state, providing services exclusively to male sex offenders.

The 8 bed facility off of Kidder Street was the only one of it's kind in the state. Previously, there was another facility in Charlotte providing similar services for sex offenders, but it was shut down after public outcry.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David was openly critical of the concept, particularly because many of the sex offenders coming to live at AFRH were from other parts of the state. He worried they would make Wilmington home after their 60 days in state-funded transitional housing, and in some cases, that was happening.

David said due to the high risk nature of sex offenders, he feared some would find new victims in their new hometown.

Will James, who managed AFRH, contacted WECT late last week saying the program was being shut down and his residents were struggling to find new places to live.

“This is a devastating blow for them. This is making a seemingly impossible situation worse, to watch grown men fall down and cry, they’re truly broken now. They came here for help," James said.

We were unable to confirm this with the state until Monday. Pamela Walker, Communications Director for the NC Department of Public Safety explained the new developments via e-mail.

"Finding suitable housing for any sex offender who is transitioning from prison to the community is a constant challenge. The department is continually looking for housing situations where offenders are anticipated to be the most successful and reduce the chances of them reoffending. The department had been piloting the group housing concept for sex offenders in Wilmington." Walker wrote.

"This pilot for sex offenders is in the process of being phased out. Again, all efforts are being taken to help ensure the offenders housed there will have successful reintegration."

"This means that some sex offenders that were at the group home have returned to the county of conviction, others to counties where appropriate resources have been identified and some have remained in the Wilmington area due to current employment there, but other housing arrangements have been made on a case-by-case basis," Walker explained.

Ben David said Monday he was glad to hear the news the house was closing.

"For the [sex offenders] who want to remain here, they better get registered immediately so we can monitor them," David said. "For the ones who are going back to their county of conviction, we say mission accomplished."

"We’ve always believed that the best likelihood for their success was dependent upon a support network that many times only a family can provide. It is our sincere hope that they don’t have any further recidivism and that they achieve success on the outside. And this is best done without being clustered around other sex offenders." ..Source.. by Ann McAdams

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