Homeless In Jail For Lack of Address

Tuesday, October 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — Two inmates who finished their prison sentences were sent back to jail because they didn't have a place to live upon release and thus couldn't meet sex offender registry requirements.

The practice has drawn criticism from defense lawyers who say it is unconstitutional and unfair to inmates who have little or no resources after being in jail for years.

``There's a constitutional right of the freedom to travel,'' said attorney Karl Baker, deputy chief of appeals for the Defenders Association of Philadelphia. Upon their release, inmates ``have a constitutional right to walk out the door and keep walking,'' he said.

Matthew Dix, convicted of rape 17 years ago in Philadelphia, finished his sentence Oct. 3 at the state Correctional Institution at Dallas, but has been behind bars ever since for lack of $5,000 bail. He is the second Pennsylvania inmate in three months to face such a dilemma, and corrections officials say more than 10 sex offenders in the past year did not comply with the residency registration.

``The point of the law is to know where these individuals are,'' said Sgt. Nancy Shaheen of the Megan's Law Unit in Harrisburg.

William E. Kilcullen, 60, the other inmate, was charged with failing to meet the requirement after being released following 10 years in prison for statutory rape and incest. The charge was later dropped after Kilcullen was able to find a residence.

Dix, who declined to be interviewed, is awaiting a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for the felony charge that could send him back to state prison. Prosecutors say he was made aware he would be put back in jail because his first address was rejected.