Monday, December 14, 2009

What Do You Think About This?

Lawyer asks court to allow homeless with sex offenses to stay at shelters near schools after Grand Rapids man died in cold last winter

GRAND RAPIDS -- When Thomas Pauli froze to death early this year next to a car in an auto salvage yard, his friends were outraged that state law prevented the convicted sex offender from taking shelter at local missions.

Now, in the aftermath of the 52-year-old's death amid frigid temperatures, a move is under way to clarify a law that prohibits registered sex offenders from residing anywhere within 1,000 feet of a school or day care.

"No one, regardless of what they have done, deserves death on the street like that," said Miriam Aukerman, a Legal Aid of Western Michigan attorney taking up the legal battle on behalf of area homeless advocates.

Among the local agencies supporting the effort are: Mel Trotter and Degage ministries, the Servants Center, Salvation Army, Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness, Guiding Light Mission and Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Aukerman recently asked Michigan State Police Director Peter Munoz, whose agency oversees the state's Sex Offender Registry, to look at whether shelters should be considered the "residence" of a homeless person. Munoz declined to rule, saying the state police primarily only keeps the computerized database of offenders.

Aukerman now plans to ask a court to issue a decision.

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I know where these missions are, they are mostly all within a 2 - 3 block radius of Catholic Central High School.

So what are your thoughts? What is the greater good here? Do we protect the children at the risk of letting a man freeze to death? Is there another solution? Is this more the result of a failed legal system that lets dangerous men back out on the street?

12 comments:

Miss T.C. Shore said...

Don't let those poor sex offenders freeze to death. Just let them freeze their wieners off.

Chuck said...

TC, not a bad solution ;)

cube said...

My solution is to have Miriam Aukerman, a Legal Aid of Western Michigan attorney, and others like her all over the country, take these poor offenders into their homes.

shoprat said...

This is one of those situations where no acceptable answer exists. Maybe a better question would be why a homeless shelter is so close to a school. We recently had a local row about that in our city council and it was discovered that homeless shelters do need to be some distance from schools, because, while many homeless are simply victims of circumstance, many more of them are unsavory characters to begin with.

DaBlade said...

They get a bisquit and shelter only AFTER getting Bobbitized.

Chuck said...

Shoprat, I agree although I do have to say that were the shelters are in Grand Rapids is fairly logical in that they are near the city center

DaBlade, agreed

Chuck said...

Personally this was an unfair question in mind because I feel it set up a false choice. I just wanted to see what everyone's thoughts were.

I think the real issue is letting dangerous men out on the street to begin with. If they are such a danger that they cannot be within a 1,000 feet of a child, they should not be in society.

I view this as a failure of the criminal justice system.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever considered that keeping them in a Mission, off the streets, keeps better tabs on them than if they were to be out and about? The Missions are not hotels, you can't come and go as you please. Think about it.

Ella Bullis Foundation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck said...

Anon, I work with the missions. Do you? Some are locked down, some are not. They are closed during the day (at least in GR). The men do not live there like a jail. They sleep there at night and have to leave in the morning. The point is if they are staying at the mission, they are staying in the area - by the schools.

LomaAlta said...

The missions are magnets to the homeless. As noted in the comments many of the homeless belong in jail or insane asylums. The rest belong in missions far from schools. But with most of them in jail or mental hospitals the problem would be lessened considerably.
Too many pointy-headed judges and do-gooder ACLU types let the homeless and sexual offenders out to prey on poor people in the cities, then get in their luxury car and drive to a gated community.

It is 90% a failure in our justice system and 10% misplaced compassion.

Chuck said...

LomaAlta, I agree. I work with the homeless and a lot of them simply cannot take care of themselves. I think the best bet is a humane institution for their safety. May not be a PC way of thinking but what is the alternative, let them freeze to death for the sake of them having their freedom?