Read Article The Guy Next Door Much to the chagrin of parents, city officials and police, Augusta is home to more sex offenders, per capita, than any other Maine municipality. Six out of every 1, residents of the capital city are registered sex offenders. That tops the next closest, Bangor, where there are 4. Staff photo by Andy Molloy Search photos available for purchase: But city officials and some residents, particularly those with children, complain the city gets more than its share of sex offenders fresh out of prison in part because corrections officials have established working relationships with local landlords willing to rent to sex offenders.
There are some rooming houses and other places that have been willing to work with sex offenders, and will have a number living in one.
Some landlords are very good about it. It is easier to monitor them when you have a number of them living in the same rooming house. Probation can be going through those kinds of places very routinely. It can be done safely. Fleury said by his count he is renting to 12 sex offenders. He said the reason he rents to more sex offenders than any other landlord in the city is fairly simple. He has more buildings than other landlords, with 23 rental properties totaling units. And he has smaller, and thus cheaper, units available in the city, where his tenants can walk to work and services.
A lot of these people are going to lead productive lives. Probation officers sometimes call him looking for a place for a sex offender getting out of prison to live, he said.
Fleury said he does not recruit such tenants, they come to him. The only advertising we do is in the paper. But those same places are, obviously, also going to have the most people, children included, living in them. Daycare, parent concerns Resident Delora Dahlen Henderson lives, and has run a daycare center for two decades, next to a sex offender. But she said his presence concerns her less than what she estimates are the five other sex offenders living within walking distance of her Cony Street neighborhood.
That includes not only her daycare charges, but her 4-year-old granddaughter. I have a responsibility not to let them out of my sight. People need to make themselves aware. Nor have her sons ever been to Cunningham Park, nearby on North Street. I feel fortunate the sense of community that Augusta has is still evident. In any community, there are extremes. He has 31 buildings, with units. A section of Green Street which is just behind the Water St.
And three sex offenders live in a Fleury-owned building at 34 Cedar St. Out in the more suburban area of the city, at Riverside Drive, four sex offenders rent units at the Country Village Motel and Apartments.
Discriminating against sex offenders by not renting to them is not illegal. Criminals are not a protected classification when it comes to housing discrimination. If you pay your rent, are kind and decent and behave, they can stay with us forever.
Most offenders on the registry have either unlisted or disconnected phone numbers. Efforts were made to reach out to offenders through probation officers, police, advocates, phone calls, in person visits and social media.
Gregoire said Detective Matt Clark spends at least every Tuesday and Thursday morning dealing with sex offender issues, such as updating the registry, and doing notifications to neighbors when a sex offender moves into their area.
Gregoire said city police do some type of notification whenever a sex offender moves into a neighborhood. How much notification they do depends on how much of a risk the sex offender is believed to pose.
He says doing so takes staff time, in doing spot checks, fingerprinting, and processing records. They take what he calls a containment approach, involving a team made up of the probation officer, a sex offender therapist, law enforcement agencies and sometimes even the landlord of the offender.
The question is, how good is the accommodation? Landry said an offender with a stable living situation will be less likely to reoffend. Family members may have been alienated by the crime that put the inmate in prison. The number of sex offenders in Augusta, while high, is trending down.
Stokes said some ten years ago Augusta had as many as to sex offenders. In January, there were registered sex offenders living in the city. Late that month, city councilors adopted a new sex offender residency restriction ordinance, which bans sex offenders who have committed acts against children younger than 14 from living within feet of public and private schools and any municipal property, such as many parks, where children are the primary users.
However the ordinance is not retroactive, so sex offenders living in those restricted areas before the ordinance was adopted do not have to move elsewhere.