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Norwich mayor calls for suspension of sex offender treatment facility

By Greg Smith

Publication: theday.com

Published October 25. 2013 6:00PM   Updated October 25. 2013 9:14PM

Norwich — Concerned that Norwich is becoming a “dumping ground” for sexual offenders, Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom on Friday asked Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to suspend activities at the January Center, the sexual offender treatment facility that opened last year in Montville.

Nystrom has called for a halt to operations until protocol at the facility is studied by the Program Review and Investigations Committee in the next session of the General Assembly. The Montville facility has sent some of its out-of-town offenders into state-funded Norwich homes.

Nystrom said in his letter to the governor that Norwich and New London — and all of southeastern Connecticut — “will not allow your department to place our children at risk by bringing these violent sex offenders who have assaulted children into our communities.”

The mayor is also critical of the state Department of Correction for failing to respond to his inquiries, especially regarding the placement of out-of-town sex offenders into Norwich.

“Your Department of Corrections continues to not have a dialog with us in an open and public way or even in a private way,” Nystrom wrote in his letter to Malloy.

The DOC has been equally critical of Nystrom, saying their calls and letters have gone unanswered.

“We are hopeful that we can establish direct communication with the Mayor, since we have not had any,” said DOC spokeswoman Karen Martucci in a statement released Thursday. “We have yet to receive any response from his office.”

Andrew R. Doba, Malloy’s director of communications, responded to Nystrom’s letter with a similar sentiment.

“The Department of Correction has repeatedly reached out to Mayor Nystrom and offered to meet regarding his concerns. The Mayor has never responded,” Doba said. “As is routine practice in every municipality, the Department of Correction notified Norwich officials whenever an offender leaves prison and resides in a community. Typically, the Chief of Police receives these notifications.”

Doba said Director of Parole Services Joseph Haggan and Acting DOC Commissioner James E. Dzurenda both have written unanswered letters following the outcry that accompanied the release of two sex offenders from outside the area into Norwich. The publicity led the DOC to move the men last month.

Nystrom’s letter comes after the more recent revelation that Richard Sherbo, a former Bridgeport-area man who finished up a 30-year prison sentence for the abduction and rape of two 16-year-old girls, was placed in a home in Norwich last month.

The DOC has said the placement was necessary because appropriate services for the 63-year-old could not be found in the Bridgeport area. DOC officials have also said that when an ex-inmate’s town of origin is determined to be inappropriate, they look elsewhere. At times, the DOC said, there are concerns that the victim resides in the offender’s area of origin and the offender is therefore relocated elsewhere.

The January Center, run by Middletown-based The Connection Inc., is located on the grounds of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville. The 24-bed facility was built as a transitional program for sex offenders who otherwise might end up homeless after they are released from prison, thereby presenting a greater risk to community.

The state DOC contracts with The Connection and other nonprofits to run residential programs — a total of about 1,200 beds statewide — for a variety of offenders residing in five different parole districts. The Connection maintains two residential programs in Norwich under the Re-Entry Assisted Community Housing, or REACH, program, according to state records.

A representative from The Connection could not be reached Friday.

g.smith@theday.com

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