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Norwich looking for allies in sex offender controversy

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published September 24. 2013 4:00AM

Norwich - The city will elicit help from regional and statewide entities that represent municipalities to seek increased state oversight of the operations of a state-funded sexual assault treatment center in Montville.

Even before calling a meeting attended by more than two dozen Norwich and Montville officials last Friday, Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and City Manager Alan Bergren had sent a letter to the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments and to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

The letter asked for their support in lobbying the state legislature to ensure that the January Center, which provides treatment for sex offenders before they transition into the community, follows strict program policies.

After learning that three January Center participants were placed in Norwich apartments near public playgrounds, Norwich officials want strict adherence to the state's agreement with host town Montville that offenders be returned to their towns of origin upon completing the program.

State officials said two of the offenders placed in the Norwich apartments were placed in "other appropriate locations" to protect their victims, as allowed in the host town agreement.

"It is imperative that the Council of Governments and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities take up an effort to introduce and advocate for legislation and/or regulation to compel the (Department of Correction) to change their methods and protect municipalities from becoming dumping grounds for convicted sex offenders," the letter said.

State Department of Correction officials said last week that at least two of the offenders placed in the Norwich apartments would be moved because of the public scrutiny brought to their situations.

Nystrom said a second letter to be signed by Norwich and Montville officials will be sent to the southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation asking that the General Assembly's Program Review and Investigations Committee review the operation of the January Center and its use of state funding. At Friday's meeting, Montville officials claimed the center, run by the private nonprofit Connection Inc., is violating both the host town agreement and program policies described at public meetings.

Bergren said Monday he will bring the first letter from the city to the SCCOG executive committee to have it placed on the full council agenda at an upcoming meeting.

c.bessette@theday.com

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