Cranston residents concerned about sex offenders, criminally insane living nearby
By John Krinjak
CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) -- Cranston East High School hosted a forum Monday night that many feel is long overdue, about a growing list of unwanted neighbors for those who live along Roosevelt and Pontiac Avenues.
"With Cranston being the receiving community of not only sex offenders but now the criminally insane, our residents need to be aware of it," said Rep. Robert Lancia.
Since 2012, the sex offender population at Harrington Hall on Howard Ave has been steadily growing--now hovering around 30.
"If you go hang out with your knitting buddies, you're probably going to talk about knitting. If you're out with people who like baseball, you're probably going to talk about baseball. What does anybody think the sex offenders are hanging out talking about? It's not baseball," said Kerri Kelleher, who helped organize the forum.
Many residents are terrified about this cluster of predators just steps away from residential neighborhoods.
"My 8 year old doesn't know what any of them look ,like and that's really my biggest concern//we're stuck. And there's a lot of neighborhoods off of Mayfield Avenue with a lot of kids in them," said Cranston resident Kate Caito.
As if that's not enough, the Roosevelt Benton Center, formerly part of the Rhode Island Training School, will soon be home to a population of criminally insane inmates.
"They've been problematic in prison. To think that they're going to be in a less secured setting could create a real nightmare for everyone," said Richard Ferruccio, president of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers.
Some residents are thinking about leaving--saying they just don't feel safe in the city.
"It's very alarming. Makes me want to put my house on the market, actually, and move," said Cranston resident Laura Laviano.
There is currently legislation in the works to limit the number of sex offenders at any one homeless shelter, but it's being held up by a lawsuit from the ACLU.
Many neighbors say city officials should be taking more of a lead here, though members of the city council and a representative for Mayor Allen Fung were in attendance.