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Local Lawmakers Shut Down Pastor’s Shelter for Sex Offenders

Local Lawmakers Shut Down Pastor’s Shelter for Sex Offenders

Out in rural Alabama, Pastor Ricky Martin (yes, his real name) felt called to open up a shelter for “the least of these”—sex offenders. He built a small chapel in the a little ways outside of a tiny town named Clanton, and left space around it for campers and RV’s to house the men. He started in 2010 and, in that time, over fifty men have lived in the space Pastor Martin set up. Many of them helped build the chapel itself. Martin charges them a small fee, and all men must abide by strict rules: no smoking, no drinking and no further breaking the law. However, they’ll live there no more. Alabama lawmakers shut down the refuge on Tuesday.

Prosecutor C.J. Robinson pushed for the chapel’s closing, saying that having so many ex-convicts guilty of similar crimes in one place poses a public safety threat. He urged the local community to pass a law forbidding former sex offenders from living 300 feet of each other, effectively shutting down Pastor Martin’s shelter. Robinson says he doesn’t doubt Pastor Martin’s sincerity and admits that none of the men living at the chapel have been convicted of any crimes since moving there, but he says Martin lacks the training to help them. “I think his motives are good. I just disagree with the way he’s going about it,” Robinson told the AP. He says he’s not sure where these men are supposed to go live now, but believes the people of nearby Clanton will feel safer without them around …

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