A Hummel Report Investigation
The Rhode Island General Assembly is considering legislation to limit the number of registered sex offenders that can stay at state-funded shelters - a direct response to the high number of offenders at Harrington Hall in Cranston, the state’s `shelter of last resort.’ This week, Jim Hummel sits down with the sponsor of the bill and the head of Crossroad Rhode Island, which the state hires to run Harrington Hall, who says opening more shelters is not the solution.
Between 6:30 and 7 o’clock every morning, the pilgrimage begins.
Dozens of men fan out, many to a nearby bus stop, ultimately heading to Providence for the day to hang out. Others walk down Howard Avenue in Cranston, their destination unclear.
It is a scene repeated virtually every day of the year at Harrington Hall - Rhode Island’s so-called homeless shelter of last resort, located in the heart of the same complex that houses the Adult Correctional Institutions and the state’s Traffic Tribunal.
Harrington Hall has become the source of discussion and debate at The Rhode Island State House this session - because of the number of sex offenders that stay there on any given night. The General Assembly is considering legislation aimed directly at the facility, although it doesn’t specifically mention Harrington Hall in the wording.
Lancia: ``It would limit the number of sex offenders at any state-funded facility to no more than 10 percent of that population.’’
Cranston Representative Robert Lancia submitted the legislation, in an effort to force both Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and the Raimondo Administration, to confront the problem, which he says goes back nearly a decade. At its peak, sex offenders occupied as many as 60 of the 112 beds available at the converted shelter, although that number has decreased to about two dozen, more recently.
Harrington Hall is in Speaker Mattiello’s district.
Lancia: ``And he said to me a year ago: `I’m working on a plan.’ Nothing happened, so I had to basically push the issue.’’
Hummel: ``There’s a larger, statewide issue: you can put a cap at 10 percent, but then where do they go?’’
Lancia: ``You raise a great issue. We really need to bring everybody to the table and come up with a solution.’’
Santilli: ``If you are homeless and you’re a registered sex offender there is nowhere else in this state where you can seek shelter and sleep at night, so they’re here.’’
Karen Santilli is the president and CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island, which the state contracts to run Harrington Hall. The story the public has not heard among the spate of recent news coverage is what has happened since Crossroads took over the day-to-day management of Harrington Hall last summer and the implementation of a philosophy the organization has called Housing First.