Monday, April 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Alabama shuts down church’s sex offender housing

Triumph Church

A gravel drives leads to a camp inhabitated by convicted sex offenders behind Triumph Church near Clanton, Ala., on Monday, June 30, 2014. A law that took effect Tuesday shut down the refuge, which Pastor Rick Martin says he began to follow the Bible's instructions to care for the outcast. A prosecutor wrote a law passed earlier this year to outlaw the camp by barring convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of each other on the same piece of property in Chilton County. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

By
From page D4 | July 06, 2014 |

CLANTON, Ala. — Believing it was his calling to reach out to people Jesus called “the least of these,” Pastor Ricky Martin built a little church and opened a camp out back for some of society’s most unwanted people: Sex offenders.

With the help of some former inmates convicted of rape, sodomy, child sexual abuse and other crimes, Martin raised a gray-block chapel in a rural patch of central Alabama in 2010, and parked old campers and recreational vehicles behind it to house the men. More than 50 convicted sex offenders have lived there since.

The camp came to an end Tuesday, when a law passed by the Alabama Legislature earlier this year shut down Martin’s sex offender refuge.

Martin said he will make the remaining men leave the half-dozen campers parked behind the church, although he doesn’t like it.

“It’s about like it’s against my constitutional rights,” he said Monday. “This is a state coming against a ministry.”

Prosecutor C.J. Robinson, who pushed for the local law that legislators passed to close down the camp, said Monday he doesn’t doubt the sincerity of Martin’s religious beliefs. He said no one living at the camp has been arrested for additional sex-related crimes. And, he said, sex offenders do need a place to live.

If not behind a tiny church in an agricultural county with about five dozen people per square mile, then where?

Robinson said he doesn’t know. But having so many ex-convicts with similar criminal records in one place is a public safety threat, he said, and Martin doesn’t have the specialized training and credentials to deal with them.

“I think his motives are good. I just disagree with the way he’s going about it,” said Robinson, the chief deputy district attorney.

Like other states, Alabama restricts the areas where sex offenders are required to live, barring anyone convicted of certain crimes to reside within 2,000 feet of a school or day care. Laws are even stricter about where offenders can work or hang out, restricting them from being within 500 feet of parks, athletic fields or businesses where kids gather.

Inmates serving time for sex crimes must tell authorities where they plan to live following their release, and prisons or county jails must continue holding anyone who can’t prove they have a legal place to live.

Martin, who runs a small upholstery shop beside his Triumph Church when he’s not ministering, said he met men with no place to go while serving as a volunteer chaplain in a state prison. He came up with the idea of a sex offender refuge in rural Chilton County, far away from any schools or day care centers, and began screening potential prisoners to live there.

Some of the released prisoners actually helped construct the church, which stands between the road and the camp, which in turn is partially encircled by a wooden privacy fence. The residents, all men, pay when they can and abide by strict rules: No smoking or drinking, and no more sex crimes.

Martin and his wife live in a house and keep watch over the camp and church, which ranges in attendance from a handful to as many as 60 people depending on the day.

“We try to live Christian,” said Kenny Dark, who served time for rape and has lived in one of the campers. “We go to the church Wednesday and two times on Sunday. We help each other.”

Martin said he is simply living out his faith by offering a hand to people rejected by society.

“You know what Jesus said? He said, ‘When you help the least of these you help me,'” said Martin. “No one else will help these people.”

Federal law requires local authorities to keep track of sex offenders, and Robinson grew concerned as he saw notice after another about sex offenders moving to the same spot — Martin’s one-acre tract just outside Clanton, a town of about 8,700. They came from 28 of Alabama’s 67 counties and three states. All but 10 committed crimes against children, Robinson said, and 32 were convicted rapists, including Dark.

Convicted in Talladega County in 1980, Dark has been living in the camp since his release from prison in 2011. He doesn’t know where he’ll go now that the camp is closing.

“I did my time,” said Dark, 56, who works odd jobs. “I’m just trying to live now.”

People in the community grew increasingly worried amid an influx of sex offenders, Robinson said, so he wrote a bill to shut down the camp by prohibiting two convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of each other on the same property unless they are married. The Legislature passed the measure without a negative vote.

The law only affects Chilton County, where Martin’s refuge is located and where people were worried, Robinson said.

People like Debra Morrison, who lives beside the small, nondenominational church. Some of her windows look out at the campers.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” said Morrison, her young granddaughter at her side.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

County action speeds Solano fairgrounds plan to next phase

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vacaville eyes ban on medical marijuana grows

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

Bid Corderos Park, city staff recommends

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
White minister fought for civil rights in the south

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Farmers markets herald return of summer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
City Coach hosts first block party

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Denim and Diamonds fundraiser set May 16

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Crash claims life of Concord teen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Biz Buzz: Company schedules pasta class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: NorthBay offers extended hours for primary care

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Biz Buzz: Retail store helps those with autism

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

Biz Buzz: Committee schedules contractors breakfast

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Budweiser kicks off new parks campaign

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

Biz Buzz: Dutch Bros. plans ALS fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
.

US / World

Picture it: A 1,000-year exposure showing a changing Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
No time to lose: Global response to Nepal quake gears up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Japan’s prime minister goes to US to showcase close ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Israel says airstrike on Syrian border targeted militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
‘Batman’ killer studied brain disorders before mass murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Image from the quake: Heavy damage in Nepal ancient city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Fighting rages in Yemen’s 3rd-largest city, strikes continue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mountaineers, guides stream from Everest after avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Putin accuses US of supporting separatists in Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Death toll in Nepal quake rises to more than 3,200

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Late spring complicates already perilous amphibian migration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Former GOP chairman enters US Senate race in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Quake agony revealed quietly on trip from Nepal airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Corinthian Colleges to shut down all 28 remaining campuses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Opinion

Let’s cut welfare by $1.5 trillion

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

 
President Hillary. Really?

By Jim Mccully | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Monday, April 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscope: April 28, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Parenting: How to set boundaries on screen time

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

Horoscope: April 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My husband doesn’t want me to redecorate home he had with first wife

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

.

Sports

Warriors confident after sweep of Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants-Rockies game postponed by rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Paul, Clippers even series with 114-105 win over Spurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ko wins Swinging Skirts for 2nd straight year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Motorcycle rider from Livermore killed in Nevada race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Billy Andrade and Joe Durant win Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cavs sweep Celts as James scores 27 in 101-93 victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
It’s here: Fight week begins with Pacquiao caravan to Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

American Pharoah completes final pre-Kentucky Derby workout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Newgarden claims first IndyCar Series win not far from home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Justin Rose wins in New Orleans for 7th PGA Tour title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Wall, Beal lead Wiz past Raptors 125-94 in Game 4 for sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janis Ruth (Sefzik) Skinner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Dilbert April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Blondie April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7