October and cooler weather are upon us, and November will be here before we’ve unpacked all the winter clothes. November is Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving means Christmas is hasting on, and both Thanksgiving and Christmas mean home and family.
This year, for some men in Rhode Island, Thanksgiving and Christmas won’t mean home because theirs are being taken from them.
According to this excellent piece in the Providence Journal, October 5, 2015, those required to register as sex offenders in Rhode Island who have been assessed--some a great many years ago--as Tier III offenders and live within 1000 feet of a school have thirty days to move. In Providence, a few tiny parcels of land remain in which they may legally live.
This is due to a bill passed in June expanding the 300-foot restriction to 1000 feet for Tier III registrants. The bill was supported by the R.I. Brotherhood of Correction Officers, no one else, and apparently that “Brotherhood” does not encompass all of law enforcement, for, according to the Journal:
Remarkably, law enforcers, civil-rights advocates, supporters of victims of sexual assault and experts who study sex-offender management say the expanded ban could actually decrease public safety by forcing offenders to move frequently or become homeless, destabilizing their lives.
Most of Providence’s affected registered citizens have lived, quietly and offense-free, in their neighborhoods for years. Some own their homes. Many are senior citizens. A few have found other places to live. The majority are bewildered, facing homelessness and hopelessness. As one said, " 'The state has got to stop punishing us. We've paid for our crimes. What's next?' ”
That is an excellent question. I am almost sure that, for most of them, what is next will not include Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas tree in the homes where they have lived, in total compliance with every law and regulation, for a good portion of their lives.