Attorneys: Sex offenders face dilemma when finding housing
Posted August 16, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — When sex offenders are released from prison in North Carolina, they have three business days to let the local sheriff’s office know where they are living.
However, sex offenders on probation have even less time and must make housing plans before leaving prison. Finding a home quickly that isn’t near schools or child-care centers can prove difficult, according to defense attorneys.
Convicted sex offenders Kevin Askew and David Talbert failed to find a place to live before leaving jail and were found to be in violation of their probations, according to their attorneys.
“The dilemma was (Talbert) was homeless and didn’t have a place to stay,” said attorney Daniel Read.
Attorney John Wait said authorities took his client, Askew, to the sheriff’s office and “violated him on his probation.”
In court, Talbert offered to live on the streets, suggesting the sidewalk in front of the federal courthouse. Askew's probation officer tried seven different numbers for places that all refused him.
The Court of Appeals agreed both men needed time outside prison to find a home. A probation officer noted that, in Askew’s case, he needed a curfew check each night, and that couldn’t happen without an address.
“The state argued that (Askew) could’ve made calls inside, but most prisoners are only allowed collect calls or to write letters,” Read said.
“There doesn’t seem to be a plan at all,” Wait added.
There are safety issues. Both Askew and Talbert were convicted of indecent liberties with children. However, Monika Johnson Hostler, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, agrees cases like theirs need another look.
“(This is) a difficult one to navigate, because the law isn’t clear,” she said.
Even though the Court of Appeals said Askew and Talbert deserved to get released, the panel didn't say how much time was enough time for a sex offender on probation to find a home.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pam Walker said the department urges probation officers “to seek the best possible residency solutions for the offenders they supervise.”
“Working often with limited options, our officers seek solutions that are within the law and in the best interest of public safety,” Walker added.
The Department of Justice says it does not plan to appeal Askew’s and Talbert’s cases. Both men are set to get out of prison next week. Their attorneys are still working on finding them a place to live.