Thursday, September 25, 2008

County treats Riverhead as a dumping ground — again

The county has set up a quasi-jail for dangerous homeless sex offenders and our hometown gets the honor of playing host. Consider it one of the perks of being the putative county seat. (Riverhead is really the seat of Suffolk County government in name only. County government abandoned Riverhead for Hauppauge long ago. And even the "Riverhead" offices of county government are located across the river, in Northampton, Town of Southampton.)

Over the objection of town officials and our local county legislators, County Executive Steve Levy, for the past couple of years, has housed homeless convicted sex offenders in a trailer in the parking lot of the county jail in Riverside. Many, if not most, of the men housed in this trailer are classified as the most dangerous sex offenders, Level 3 offenders, who are considered by the state to be the most likely to repeat their crimes -- "a high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists," in the words of the state's Department of Criminal Justice Services. Currently 13 of the 15 men who have the trailer listed as their address on the state's sex offender registry are Level 3 offenders. Nine of those men were convicted of sex offenses against children.

This quasi-jail "program" has been so "successful" -- characterized as such by Mr. Levy's social services department spokesman -- that the county is now expanding it. They've now brought a bigger trailer into the parking lot so they can house even more homeless sex offenders there.

"It's been an ideal solution to keeping homeless sex offenders out of neighborhoods," the spokesman said. Out of neighborhoods they care about, anyway.

The sex offender trailer is within easy walking distance of Riverhead Free Library, Suffolk County Historical Society (the site of hundreds of school field trips), two public elementary schools, an intermediate school, the middle school and the high school, and what's left of downtown Riverhead, which includes another popular attraction for children and school trips, Atlantis Marine World.

The Riverside jail parking lot may seem like a good location to Mr. Levy, but to me, it's all wrong. Unlike Mr. Levy, I have teenage daughters who attend Riverhead public schools, walk from school to the library and potentially share the sidewalks with the Level 3 sex offenders who've been dumped in downtown Riverhead by the County of Suffolk.

But not to worry. The dangerous sex offenders are bused during the day to their "home" social services office, and, when they are returned to the trailer in the evening, they are not allowed to leave. They are watched by a private security firm hired for that purpose. And the location is behind barbed wire.

Well, the barbed wire fence has a gaping hole in it. (See story, page 1) And I don't buy that the men are not allowed to leave the trailer. Remember these men are not in jail. They have served their time. They simply have no place to live.

The county's trailer has no cooking facilities. Where do they eat? What happens when county social services offices are closed on weekends and holidays? What happens when a resident refuses to go to the social services office? Where do the residents go after they've showered at the "industrial site" up-island on weekends? To Mr. Levy's home in Holbrook for tea and cookies?

Even if Mr. Levy doesn't care about Riverhead neighborhoods and Riverhead kids, we know he cares about the Almighty Dollar. And on that score, this "program" can't be too "successful." There's the cost of the trailer itself, the cost of the private security firm, the cost of transporting these men to the various social services offices throughout the county and back five days a week, the cost of transporting them to the unspecified "industrial" location for showers every weekend, and the cost of renting the shower facility.

Wouldn't it be cheaper to put this trailer over at the minimum security county jail in Yaphank -- which is truly not in a neighborhood -- and allow the men to shower and eat there? Those that work could take advantage of the county's marvelous public transportation system to get to their jobs. Those who have no jobs could be put to work on the county farm, to help pay their own freight. And if they roam off the county farm unescorted, they'll find themselves at county police headquarters -- instead of in a neighborhood with schools, libraries and museums, filled with your children and mine.


Anonymous said...

Since the Suffolk County Sheriffs have taken over patrol of 495 and 27 why don't doesn't Levy put the trailer trash on a chain gang picking up litter on these highways. That way the Sheriffs can watch them during the day too. They'd probably be too easy a target for road ragers to mow down, which would save the taxpayers money to house them.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me Riverhead could use its new ZTZ law to pick these creeps up as soon as they cross into town, and then return to sender.

Anonymous said...

You can view these folks in the state registry at:

Any listing address as DSS, 100 County Center Drive, are in the trailer.

Denise Civiletti said...

I decided to pick through the long list of sex offenders living in the 11901 zip code — fortunately the majority are behind bars in the county jail — and post their information and mug shots on this blog.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if you could somehow move this wall of shame to the paper's homepage. Not every web reader makes it over to the blog.
--An RHS parent

Denise Civiletti said...

After I finished this last night I was thinking the same thing. We should put this on The News-Review's Web site and maybe even in next week's paper.

Anonymous said...

Jim Bisset at Atlantis should give them jobs cleaning the shark tank with bait tied to their waists.

Anonymous said...

Denise: At the Aquebogue PTO Meeting this evening Mason Haas mentioned that the trailers are now going to have bunkbeds so they can house double the amount of sex offenders, up to 40 or so. He urged everyone to attend an upcoming meeting in November (date not yet set) with some government reps to discuss this issue. Do you know what he is talking about and if so can you please post or email me at
We need to do all we can to make sure our children are safe, as I have my oldest of 3 now in Pulaski which is in walking distance of those trailers.
Joe Rizzo Aquebogue

mason said...

Last thursday I went to the state registry site. The Count for the trailer is now 20, 14 level 3s, 6 level 2s. The public needs to be vocal.
It has been explained to me that there are nights when only 7-8 residents show up. Where are the others?
The Riverhead PTO is going to have their executive meeting the first week of November. I am hoping that there will be a date set for use of the H S auditorium.
At that meeting there will be representatives from our legislative body. I am hoping to get assemblymen Thiele and Alessi there. The NYS Assembly passed a bill and the governor signed it.
This bill deals directly with the issue at hand. The questions that need to be answered are:
1-What rules will the Dept of S S and probation adopt?
2- How will it work?
3- When will it be implented? There has to be an end to this problem being forced on us..