Written by: Michael Risinit
CARMEL — Putnam County and state officials are still trying to find a new home for Lance Smith, a Level 3 sex offender who moved into an apartment in Carmel near schools and a school bus stop.
But finding a place to live for someone who is on parole following a conviction for having sex with a girl younger than 11 isn’t that easy.
“(We) went through 53 listings and contacted three real estate brokers and have gone through every single vacancy in the county,” said Michael Piazza, the Putnam commissioner of social services. “Either they didn’t fit (the guidelines) or not one landlord will take him.”
Smith moved into the multifamily home off Seminary Hill Road in early February. Shortly after that, officials said they would relocate him.
His arrival caused some consternation because of his apartment’s proximity to the bus stop and preschools. The latter aren’t part of the guidelines in the state’s Sexual Assault Reform Act, which requires a convicted sex offender on parole or probation to avoid school grounds.
Officials are trying to amend the act and some are calling for the state to do more to house such individuals. Both Piazza and state Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, want regional housing for parolees at state-owned sites.
“The state is failing on a large scale to house the worst of the worst sexual predators in an efficient manner,” Ball said Tuesday.
Peter Cutler, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said the agency doesn’t comment on proposed legislation. “(Smith) is abiding by all the conditions of his post-release supervision. He’s under very strict supervision at that,” Cutler said.
Smith lives at 25 Seminary Hill Road, Apt. 2, a white house across the street from the Little Wonders preschool and down the block from the nursery school at the Gilead Presbyterian Church.
The building is owned by Anna La Morte of Danbury, Conn., according to county records. She didn’t return a phone message left Tuesday.
Efforts to speak with Smith at his home were unsuccessful. Smith told Channel 7 ABC news on Feb. 16 that he deserved the scrutiny because of his past actions.
A man who identified himself as the building superintendent said Smith was a quiet guy who kept to himself. He is one of 19 Level 2 and 3 sex offenders living in Putnam, according to the state’s sex offender registry.
Ball and others also want the reform act clarified to include day-care centers and preschools.
“I think that the proposed legislation is going to be an excellent tool for us to better manage the sex offenders that are living in our jurisdiction and that may be coming to our jurisdiction in the future,” Carmel police Lt. Brian Karst said. (ARTICLE)