RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We know how much the Department of Corrections is paying a couple of area motels to house newly released sex offenders who are homeless. 12 on Your Side has received the state documentation we requested some time ago.
I got the dollar amounts in the mail but, late today around 4, I received the most detailed explanation from corrections in an e-mail. D.O.C. says there's a "greater chance" of sex offenders re-offending if they are homeless and, right now, the department is clarifying protocol for housing homeless sex offenders.
How much of your tax dollars did the Department of Corrections spend over 3 months to house newly released sex offenders in four Chesterfield motels? I got the documents five days after my last investigative report. One day before the freedom of information deadline expired on D.O.C.
The state used a Bank of America, corporate purchasing card. It provided me charge receipts for 2 of the four motels, the Snow White and The White House. Housing homeless sex offenders cost tax payers $7500 in December 2010, $10,251 in January, and almost $9,000 in February. That's $26,651 in three months at just two motels. That's an estimated $81,000 a year. Most taxpayers don't like the idea but ask, what's the alternative?
"It's slightly unsettling but at the same time, I think if another program was found that's cheaper and more effective, by all means, they should do that," one taxpayer said.
D.O.C. calls it a difficult challenge and says a few parolees have exceeded their 60 day motel stay limit but says, many parolees have no family support and because of their sex offenses they don't qualify for federally subsidized housing. They are modern day lepers and when they are homeless, they are off the map and dangerous.
"I guess where would they go if they aren't going there? I mean do they even have a place to go?" said another taxpayer.
During my last visit, the Snow White Motel was one sex offender's home for more than two years. They should be employed and on their feet after 60 days. D.O.C. says it's looking into ways of sparking greater collaboration to address homeless offenders…there are no simple solutions and public safety is its primary goal.
The Department of Corrections is looking into the problem and says it provides support to offenders to help them re-enter society but funding is limited.