EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Parole officers are turning to motels as places to house convicted sex offenders whom state residency restrictions leave with nowhere else to go after they are released from prison.
Twenty-four sex offenders live at the Woodcreek Inn & Suites in the Ohio River city, according to the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry. The Evansville Courier & Press reports (http://bit.ly/yQD6rP ) that the Evansville Parole Office pays the rent for six of the offenders who have agreed to repay the money. It's one of 15 such deals statewide, all but two involving motels.
A man who identified himself as Woodcreek's general manager declined comment.
Officials say laws that forbid sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of various sites where children gather make it difficult for them to find places to live and make it inevitable that they'll congregate.
"'I can't go back to where I was living before my conviction because I live close to a park,'" said John Markham, Evansville assistant director of parole, describing the registered sex offender's predicament. "'I can't go with a family member, my mother, because she lives across cater-cornered, within 1,000 feet, of a school or playground or day care center. So my parole officer says to me, 'Any other ideas? Any friends or whatever else?' No, they've got young children in the house."
"When you limit someone's residences, you necessarily push them to where they are allowed to live. Nobody wants to hear that," he added.
Roxie Huffman, who said she lives and works near the motel, said having so many sex offenders in one place — especially one that's near her and her children — makes her nervous.
"Anybody traveling through Evansville, if they've got children ... if there's children around, that just poses an opportunity," Huffman said. "If people don't know to keep their children away, if they don't know there's a cluster, people need to be made aware."
Huffman said she was especially concerned after the Dec. 22 slaying of 9-year-old Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon, who lived in a Fort Wayne trailer park that housed numerous registered sex offenders.
But Markham pointed out that Michael Plumadore, who is charged with murder in Aliahna's death, was not a convicted sex offender.
"It wasn't about the sex offenders," he said. "But it got everybody's attention."
In Indiana, the responsibility for registering and monitoring sex offenders falls to sheriff's departments.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams said having so many sex offenders in one place has its benefits.
"Honestly, it probably works to our advantage that several of them live over there because they're all easier to find," Williams said.
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com