Sunday, August 9, 2015

law piled on law piled on law keep inmates from leaving prison

This is an illustration of what happens when bad legislation meets bad legislation meets bad legislation.

Kentucky releases sex offenders from prisons "conditionally": they can only be released to an approved residence and, for five years, can be returned to prison for violating sex offender restrictions. The residence must be approved 180 days--six months--before the inmate's release date. For some, the biggest hurdle is the restriction that limits where they are allowed to live.
[He] served out every bit of his eight-year sentence for sexual abuse and should have been released from prison more than a year ago. 
But he is still behind bars and could be for up to four more years, with state taxpayers footing the bill for his medical expenses and incarceration
The reason: He was charged with violating the terms of his conditional release from prison before he even got out, because he couldn’t find a legal place to live as a sex offender. 
One law keeps him in prison if he cannot find housing, another law eliminates huge swaths of the city from the list of residence possibilities, and yet another law puts him on the registry and makes sure that he can be rejected for no other reason than being on that list.

He has been set up.
Wolfe is one of five inmates in Kentucky who have been “violated at the gate” — that is, found to have violated the conditions of their release before they even left the prison gates. One of them died in custody three months later. 
The article does not talk about whether these inmates have family or friends but we cannot assume they are alone in the world. Imagine being willing to take in the guy when he is released from prison but the law prevents you from doing so because your home is too close to a school.

When he is serving his up-to-five additional years in prison, he isn't simply getting housing and care unavailable on the outside. Housing and care are available on the outside. The law prevents him from getting to that housing and care.

In the meantime, Kentucky taxpayers are on the hook for this man's incarceration. Aging and sick inmates cost taxpayers a great deal more than the average young person in prison.
Finding legal places to live for sex offenders, especially those who require medical treatment, is a growing problem nationally, experts say. Illinois keeps 1,250 parolees behind bars because of a shortage of housing, and most are sex offenders, the Chicago Tribune reported in January. 
Remember: the shortage of housing is imposed by law.
[Public defender Melanie] Lowe says that it is unjust to hold inmates after they’ve done their time solely because they can’t find nursing care at a legal address. Sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center or publicly owned playground.
Finding a home for a registered citizen when all that's needed is a place to live can be difficult. Add in medical care requirements and the search becomes even more difficult.
...nursing homes are reluctant to admit sex offenders because of the potential liability and because it would place the home’s address on the sex offender registry. 
The registry was supposed to be a protective measure, not a punitive measure. How did it come to cause so much expensive trouble?
State Sen. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, sponsored a bill creating the conditional release for sex offenders — originally for three years and later amended to five — in 1998. ...
Yonts said in an interview that his primary goal was to keep something over the heads of offenders who disputed their crimes and didn’t complete sex offender counseling in prison. He said he also wanted to ensure all sex offenders registered at a legal address.

Keeping infirm inmates in prison because they can’t find places in nursing homes “is not what I originally contemplated,” Yonts said. 
The law of unintended consequences is always in effect, isn't it, Senator Yonts?

Yonts is not the one paying the price, however, reducing any urgency he might feel to correct the law. Inmates spending additional time in prison after their release date are paying the price.

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