Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michigan releases sex offenders by the HUNDREDS

Early release of sex offenders from state prisons concerns victims, county law officials
By SUSAN YOUNGER staff reporter

LAPEER -- As the State of Michigan closes prisons and slashes prison populations to save money, those charged with the safety of the community are concerned with the early release of sex offenders into Lapeer County.

"The Michigan Department of Corrections is releasing criminal sexual conduct offenders by the hundreds from prison," said Lapeer County Prosecuting Attorney Byron Konschuh Tuesday. "It is my understanding they dropped 10 off on the courthouse steps today. Genesee County is getting over 130 and this is happening throughout the state. They're being released in Lapeer County, even if they didn't necessarily reside here prior to the crime or committed the crime in Lapeer County."

Michigan officials are still trying to balance the state budget, which has a projected $2-billion shortfall for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

More sex offenders are expected in the county, and the early releases are a recipe for disaster, Konschuh added.

"No one in the community knows this is happening," Konschuh said. "We don't know where they will be living. They're supposed to receive help to find jobs. With unemployment the way it is I'm concerned."

Adding to the problem, Konschuh and Director of Victim's Services Catherine Strong has no idea which offenders are receiving the early out dates and how many more will be in the county.

"It's my job to make sure they're not a victim again," Strong said. "I would hope to contact the victims, but I don't know which offenders are due for release. I was getting LEIN (law enforcement information network) sheets, but they're no longer forwarding them to us. Now I have to rely on the state doing their job of notifying the victim."

Strong and Konschuh recently helped two women file appeals in an attempt to keep the offenders behind bars. They had no idea the two were going to be released early; they were contacted by the victims.

A former Metamora woman, now 18, who was sexually abused when she was a juvenile by her stepfather, has left home. She is so frightened he will find her that she is hiding, said her mother Crystal Galloway.

"He was sentenced in 2002 to two counts of criminal sexual conduct to a person under 13," said Galloway, who has remarried. "He was sentenced to between seven and 30 years in prison. I got a letter Thursday saying he will be on the streets in September. He told people he was grooming my daughter to be his next wife. How can they let this happen to her?"

Another woman, who was raised in Lapeer County, left the state and has since remarried after her daughter was abused. Though she changed their names and left without a trace, her former husband found her while still in prison.

"He abused my daughter for almost eight years beginning when she was just over two years old," said the woman, who doesn't want her name used. "I am devastated. When you're a sex offender there is no cure."

Though he was supposed to be incarcerated for up to seven more years, the man could be on the streets in September.

"I haven't told my daughter yet," she said. "We don't want contact with him, and I don't want him around my children. I would not want to take the chance."

Konschuh and Strong will file applications for leave of appeal on behalf of any CSC victims to deter early release of sex offenders. Phone (810) 667-0326 if notified of a release.

Susan Younger may be reached at (810) 664-0811, Ext. 8122, or susan.younger@lapeergroup.com
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