Convicted sex offenders struggle to find housing in New York

Around 100 offenders trapped in prison beyond their sentence: lawsuit
June 23, 2016 10:34AM

Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York

About 100 convicted sex offenders are being held in New York City prisons past the end of their sentence because there is no place to house them, according to a class action lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme court last month.

The suit sheds light on the challenges sex offenders face in finding apartments. Under state law, they cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school. In densely populated New York, this leaves very few pockets where sex offenders then cluster.

“What the law does is render many people homeless,” said Wesley Caines of public-defender organization Brooklyn Defender Services.

Until 2014, the corrections department sent convicted offenders who couldn’t find a suitable apartment to homeless shelters even if they were within 1,000 feet of a school. But it stopped the practice amid political pressure.

According to the complaint, the policy change led to offenders backlogged in de-facto prisons dubbed residential treatment centers.

Donald Griffin, who was charged with groping a woman in a 1985 robbery to satisfy his crack addiction, is now at a shelter in Wards Island.

“How do you go to a real-estate agent,” he told the Journal, “and say, ‘I can’t be within 1,000 feet of a school?’ ” [WSJ] – Konrad Putzier