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Indiana

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Sex-offender housing ends in Muncie neighborhood

MUNCIE, Ind. – Residents of a Muncie neighborhood say they’re relieved that the Indiana Department of Correction has stopped housing recently released sex offenders in two homes in the area, but they assurance that state officials are working to find housing, jobs and support networks for the parolees.

The department had used two houses in Muncie’s Old West End neighborhood as temporary housing for offenders from 11 counties who lacked a place to go.

Residents living near the houses told DOC and local officials in July that they were unhappy they had not been told about the “DOC Assist” program or the proximity of sex offenders to their families, The Star Press reported (http://tspne.ws/MmlCV1 ). Most of the offenders living in the neighborhood were from outside Delaware County, a fact that troubled Mayor Dennis Tyler.

Victoria Fafata, supervisor of the DOC’s 11-county New Castle Parole District, said the department no longer operates “DOC Assist” facilities in the Old West End or elsewhere in Delaware and neighboring counties.

Tyler said he was pleased for the Old West End residents.

“I know they felt like a dumping ground,” he said.

Despite the end to the DOC Assist houses, the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry would make it appear the Old West End still has 29 such offenders living in the neighborhood, including nine at the two houses no longer used by DOC.

The accuracy of the registry has been challenged because offenders’ addresses often aren’t updated years after they’ve moved.

Brad King, president of the Old West End Neighborhood Association, said residents who met with city and corrections officials last summer never intended to shut down the housing. Rather, he said, they wanted “to make sure everyone was aware, safe, compliant with the law and situations like this were as transparent as possible.”

The Old West End lacks many of the schools, parks and daycare centers that some sex offenders are prohibited from living near.

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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