“Choose between homelessness and reoffending”

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By NBC 12 On Your Side….

Thousands of your tax dollars are being spent to help sex-offenders keep a roof over their heads. On Tuesday, a man called 12 On Your Side, saying he’s upset he’s being kicked out of the program just as he’s working to rebuild his life.

For purpose of this story, we called him Mike.

“I’m trying to straighten my life up, clear my name and live a peaceful life,” the ex-offender said.

He was released from prison three years ago for a sex offender. Right now, he stays in a home where he pays a small amount for rent thanks to the help of a Department of Corrections housing assistance program. But Mike says, he’s about to be kicked out.

“They’re saying 30 days is sufficient enough for a person to transition into society. It’s not so when the time is up, where do you go to?” Mike said.

“Some will watch this and say, ‘well it’s been three years,’ ” NBC 12 said.

“Every job I have had, they have caused me to lose it because the place doesn’t want me to register their job as a sex offender,” he responded.

He’s afraid he’ll now lose his seasonal job, which he works five days a week, since he may soon be homeless. Mike claims an official told him to “‘re-offend and we can help you.’ That means going back to jail. That means I have to go back out there, commit a case to go back to jail. Just to have a place to stay,” he said.

“In spirit perhaps, we have let go of rehabilitation in favor of punishment as a society,” said Dr. Andrea Simpson, a political science professor.

She says governments must decide whether to fully fund and support rehab programs for sex offenders or consider lifetime incarceration, especially she says, since sex offender registration rules, which exist to keep you safe, often backfire into social stigma.

“So I might want to let my cousin who I have faith in and maybe I know the details of the offense, I might want to let him have a room in my home but I can’t because his stigma is transferred to me and will have an impact on my employment and my relationship with my neighbors,” Simpson explained.

“We have paid our time. We did our debt. Help us to get a job. Help us get a place to stay, be successful in society,” Mike added.

Housing sex offenders is nothing new for the state. An NBC 12 12 investigation back in 2011 revealed Virginia spent roughly $80,000 a year. NBC 12 reached out to the Department of Corrections and was told the organization is looking into it.

story originally printed here

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