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May 26, 2010 11:38 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Judge extends restraining order, preventing homeless sex offenders from staying in new Westhampton trailer

May 26, 2010 11:38 AM

A State Supreme Court justice on Friday indefinitely extended a restraining order that keeps Suffolk County from using a new trailer to house homeless sex offenders in Westhampton.

Southampton Town successfully secured a temporary restraining order on May 4, a day after county officials moved the new trailer to the site off Old Country Road. The new trailer is equipped with bathrooms and showers, features the old trailer currently being used at the site does not have. In February, a state administrative law judge, after hearing complaints from homeless sex offenders about the lack of plumbing at the Westhampton and Riverside trailers, ruled that all trailers should have kitchen and bathroom facilities.

On Friday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Whelan extended the restraining order indefinitely, according to a press release issued by Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s office.

“As a result of Justice Whelan’s order,” the release reads, “the county is now prevented from installing new trailers at either the Riverside or Westhampton sites to house homeless registered sex offenders.”

The restraining order says the county is prevented from “erecting, constructing, placing, altering, replacing, removing or in any way changing the physical structures” of the trailer, effectively preventing anyone from sleeping in them.

Gregory Blass, the commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, which operates the trailers, declined to comment.

East End residents and lawmakers have been protesting the placement of the Westhampton trailer and another one used to house the homeless sex offenders at the Suffolk County Jail facility in Riverside since they were placed in 2007, calling them an unfair burden to the community.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced earlier this year that the trailers would be closed and a voucher system, in which offenders are given $90 a day to find their own food and housing, would be put in place. But the legislature balked and essentially blocked the new system by not funding it. Earlier this month, the legislature went a step further, adopting a law that ends the voucher system and gives the Department of Social Services 30 days to formulate a new system of housing the county’s homeless sex offender population. The new plan must include a provision that prohibits more than six offenders being housed in the same legislative district or township, and requires that the shelters have 24-hour surveillance.

County Executive Steve Levy was expected to veto that bill on Wednesday, the deadline for doing so. He argued that the Department of Social Services cannot carry out its state-mandated duty to house the homeless if the voucher system ends.

Mr. Levy wrote to Ms. Throne-Holst and Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter on Thursday, urging them to join him in rejecting the legislature’s idea to end the voucher system. He said that ending the program would leave the county with no choice but to keep the trailers in Riverside and Westhampton open.

Ms. Throne-Holst said that she was scheduled to meet with Mr. Levy on Wednesday. Though the voucher system is not ideal, Ms. Throne-Holst said that she supports that program because it more evenly distributes the homeless sex offender population through the county.

Mr. Walter did not return calls seeking comment.

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By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 21, 10 5:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am afraid that I do not understand the basis for the County being responsible for providing housing for potentially homeless sex offenders. To the best of my knowledge the County does not automatically provide housing for the non-sex offending homeless population. Could someone please explain this for me? Thanks.
By nsea93 (39), Southampton on May 21, 10 10:42 PM
I can only guess at this... probably because they want to know where the sex offenders are. Sad though that the degenerates are cared for and the people that could use and deserve some help are ignored.

By double standard (1506), quogue on May 22, 10 10:03 AM
Common sense prevails!
By double standard (1506), quogue on May 22, 10 10:02 AM
NSEA93, thats is a valid point. So OUR tax dollars have to pay for them. I would imagain that thay are on Parol/Probation, and the terms of that would INCLUDE getting a job, and a residence that THEY pay for.

Now what would be the cost of housing one of them, ? would it be more then what we the TAX PAYING CITIZENS pay to have them behind bars. If not them send them back to prison INDEFINITELY.

I also know congrss just said that the states CAN keep sex offenders behind bars INDEFINITELY, ...more
By KAZ (26), SOUTHAMPTON on May 23, 10 11:41 AM
I can not imagine giving sex offenders $90.00 per day when there are honest, hard working people in some communities that live on less than that and do not receive any help from anyone.

Find a non- residential area (areas) and house them there, put them to work for that money and stop paying their taxi fares, supply them with bikes.

By barbsal610 (2), Westhampton on Jun 18, 10 4:46 PM