Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

OLD NEWS: State struggles to place aging inmates after release

Hummmmm, lets see, holding someone beyond when they are supposed to be released, and the state is doing the holding? California just solved this problem, when Jaycee was illegally held by a RSO and the state failed to see this through their parole officers, they paid her 20 Million dollars for being held some 18 years. OK, a sliding scale, 1 day to 1 year = 1 million dollars, 1 day + 1 year = 2 million and so on. Sounds fair to me... OH, and the state pays for the current illegal incarceration and medical costs because they started the problem..
7-12-2010 Virginia:

CAPRON - On April 22, Tyrone Gray Conway was driven in a state van from the Deerfield Correctional Center to the parole office in Richmond after 30 years in prison.

His return home, however, was short-lived. Soon after he arrived, officials took the 50-year-old, 6-foot-2, 257-pound, diabetic, wheelchair-bound sex offender to the nearby VCU Medical Center.

"They tried to admit me in there, and they wouldn't take me. So they was debating on what to do with me," Conway said. "All they told me is I ain't got no place to go; no home, so they can't let me go."

"I was going to be a free man," he said. But by the end of the day, he was locked up again. And on May 5, he was sent back to Deerfield, where he remains in custody two months after his mandatory parole date.

A major public-safety initiative of Gov. Bob McDonnell is to help Virginia's inmates re-enter their communities and reduce the number who wind up back in prison.

Marla Decker, McDonnell's secretary of public safety, recently said, "These people are paying their dues to society, they're doing their time, and we should set them up to succeed prior to release, rather than setting them up to fail."

"We can start looking at what they need early on so that when it's time to release them, we don't have the difficult problems that we're now facing upon release, particularly on the geriatric side," she said.

Keith Davis, the warden at Deerfield where many of the state's elderly inmates are housed, outlined the problem to Virginia senators touring the prison last month.

"In some cases, literally - not just figuratively, but literally - they do not have a bridge to live under. What are we going to do with those people?" he asked.

. . .

Davis said that with large, aging inmate populations, it is a growing problem in the nation and not just in Virginia.

Often, older inmates and/or sex offenders have outlived their families or are estranged from them.

Nursing homes and other facilities are reluctant to take them, even if they have Medicaid. And families initially willing to take them sometimes find they are unable to cope.

Thus far, Donna Harrison,, a community placement coordinator with the Department of Corrections, has been working on Conway's case for a year.

"We're usually looking all over the state for placements, and I know in this case I've looked at over 250 nursing homes," she said.

Officials said they could not comment specifically on what happened in Conway's case April 22.

However, James Sisk, manager of offender release services for the department, said that in general, "we always want a [release] plan worked out ahead of time but sometimes we just don't have it and we get up to their release date and we have to release them."

And Larry Traylor, a department spokesman, said probation and parole officials have the authority to issue a warrants to return offenders to custody if no plan is available that will allow their special needs to be met.

"As a temporary solution, and rather than simply placing the offender on the street, we may find it necessary to house the offender [in prison] in order to provide him with proper care, particularly when the offender needs 24-hour medical care," he said.

Harrison said a major problem for the department is the lack of long-term beds in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for Medicaid recipients, the only coverage most released prisoners have, she said.

Also, she said, "trying to get a nursing home or an assisted-living facility to accept a sex offender is extremely difficult."

In the majority of cases, families step in and take the released inmate, Sisk said. But Conway's situation, unfortunately, is not unusual, he said.

"In the last three years, we've had 178 [offenders] we have identified as really tough cases," he said. The goal is to get a plan ready before an inmate is released, but it is not always possible, he said.

"Nobody can make a nursing home take anybody," Sisk said. They have legitimate concerns about the safety of their residents. Just one assault could cause a home to lose its insurance coverage, he said.

He and Harrison hope some solutions will be found as a result of the current effort in Decker's office.

"We're always looking for help," Sisk said. Other possibilities include faith-based efforts, city-contracted beds, and grants.

. . .

Crimes such as Conway's - who was convicted in 1981 in Richmond for abduction and attempted rape - committed before Jan. 1, 1995, come under the old parole rules. In 1987 while in prison, he also was convicted of possession of a weapon and maiming.

Parole-eligible inmates have a discretionary parole release date - when the parole board can begin considering an early release - and a mandatory parole date - when an inmate must be released.

Time off for good behavior, or good conduct time, figures into the formula used for determining mandatory release dates. The idea behind mandatory parole is to discharge an inmate with some remaining prison time to hang over his or her head to help ensure good behavior.

Traylor said that when it appears an inmate will be released without an appropriate plan, it is possible to use earned good conduct time to delay the release date, allowing more time to find a placement.

Harrison said she is working with the city of Richmond and hopes that arrangements for Conway can be made soon. And efforts continue to try to locate his family.

Sisk said the department is moving as quickly as possible or the point will be reached where it loses any legal hold over Conway and he must be released.

"He's a sympathetic figure," Sisk said, "but he's a big guy."

. . .

In a recent interview at the prison, Conway produced a copy of the warrant being used to hold him. It alleges he had violated a condition of his release and was a fugitive even though the warrant was issued long after Conway had returned to Deerfield.

Just last month, his listing on the Virginia State Police sex offender website identified his status as "probation/parole." It now says, "incarcerated."

Conway said he has "a child's mind" and accuses the Department of Corrections of brainwashing him with tape recorders and television. He said he understands his is a difficult case for the department but, nevertheless, he wants to be released soon.

"I hope to get to a group home or a nursing home, because in reality I can't go back out there in society," he said.

Conway grew up in Richmond. He has brothers and sisters and cousins, though he lost their addresses and telephone numbers long ago.

"Since my mom died [in 1991], everybody else stopped coming to see me," he said.

He said his legs are paralyzed and he has a number of other health problems, including diabetes.

"I've straightened out. I'm a good guy now," he said. "I deserve a chance to get out there, because I did all my time. I ain't got no time left."

He hopes a family member will see his story and contact him.

Conway has written a number of poems with Christian themes over the years and spent 10 minutes reciting dozens of lines from four of them.

"I did the abduction, I did grab the girl," he said of the 1980 attack. But he denies trying to attack her and says, "I did my time, and I think 30 years is enough." ..Source.. Frank Green | TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

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