Threat of Escape Demands Community Notification
(HAMILTON) – Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) released the following statement Tuesday after the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee upon which he sits held a Monday hearing on public safety concerns surrounding halfway houses overseen by the Christie administration:
“The testimony we heard Monday was troubling on many levels, but I was especially concerned about what we heard about sex offenders being released into halfway houses without community notification.
“Megan’s Law requires community notification for released sex offenders so we can better protect our children with knowledge and precaution, but apparently notification is not happening when sex offenders are placed into halfway homes because those facilities are still part of the state corrections system.
“We need to close this gaping chasm in our community notification system.
“Though we never got a clear answer, we heard testimony on Monday that seemed to suggest as much as 15 percent of residents escape from their halfway houses. It’s chilling to think that some of these could be sex offenders and yet the community had no prior notification of their presence simply because they were in a halfway house.
“Sex offenders should not be placed into halfway homes until they are tiered, and once there they should face the same community notification requirements as those released from the corrections system. That’s common sense.
“I’m going to research this issue more and develop legislation as soon as possible to correct this problem.”