Two times over the last few months I have met two different homeless men in my city who have a similar story. Both men are in their twenties. Neither man is from Franklin or Williamson County. One man is black and the other is white. Both are in a tough spot.
Both men got in trouble in Franklin and ended up in jail for sex crimes. Both are now on probation, and both have ankle monitors. They are both on the sex offender registry, and neither can leave the county. Doing so would result in a violation of their probation and put them back in jail. Neither one of them have any family and friends in the area. Both are originally from California. And because of their crime and being on the sex registry, neither will be able to find a job in our city. One man I met when the weather was warm, and to be honest, I don’t know where he is anymore. The other man I met a couple of weeks ago. Another organization gave him my name because they know our church provides emergency shelter when the weather gets below freezing. (Right now we are in the middle of 10 straight nights of temps in the 20s.) This one man stayed with us in our shelter, and even turned in the location of our shelter (a warehouse) to his probation officer for approval. At first, it was approved, but then later denied because it is within 1,000 feet of a public park. Now, staying in our shelter would be a violation of his probation. But somehow, being homeless and wandering the streets all night, in the cold, is not a violation. Does that make any sense to anyone?
I have made a few phone calls, and have talked to a few different “officials,” including his probation officer, and am told there is nothing that can be done for him. (I do have another idea, but I can’t follow through with it until Monday. But until then, is in out in the cold.) I feel it is more of a danger to the community for him to be alone at night, looking for some place to stay warm, then being in a warm, safe environment with us. Do you think I am correct in the assumption?
In no way do I want to minimize what these two men have done. Their crimes are inexcusable. But what sense does it make to release someone from jail on probation, knowing they have no support and nowhere to go? How is that good for them, their victims, or society as a whole? What happened to rehabilitation? If you were me, what would you tell these guys? If you were me, what would you do?