UPDATE: State releases report on the Pogue Center - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

UPDATE: State releases report on the Pogue Center

CINCINNATI (AP) - Halfway houses should be required to immediately notify parole officials when an offender is evicted or flees, a state panel recommended Tuesday in its review of a halfway house that kicked out a sex offender accused just days later of murdering a teenage girl.

Anthony Kirkland, 40, was evicted from the Pogue Rehabilitation Center on Feb. 27, a Friday night, for fighting with another resident.

Police were called, but the other resident declined to press charges. His parole officers were not contacted until the following Monday, the next business day.

Kirkland was charged about a week later with the murder of 13-year-old Esme Kenney. Police say they found him near the girl's partly burned burned body in woods near her home. She had been strangled.

Kirkland has also been charged in the 2006 deaths of a woman and a teenager.

A committee conducting the review for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said new standards are needed to ensure that all Ohio halfway houses properly and immediately notify the Adult Parole Authority when an offender is evicted or flees the center.

The review said Pogue Rehabilitation Center's notification policies on unauthorized releases were confusing and needed to be clarified. No offender should be evicted from the center without first notifying the Adult Parole Authority, the committee said.

Center staff said they operated under an unwritten rule that the parole authority should not be contacted after hours, on weekends or holidays, the committee said. The committee said it could not find where or when that rule originated.

The center's operators, Volunteers of America Ohio River Valley, released a statement Tuesday saying it has fully cooperated with state and local reviews and is already changing its notification policy.

"It is clear in the report that there is room for improvements throughout the system," said Chris Lohrman, CEO and president of the Volunteers of America Ohio River Valley. "VOA shall endeavor to continue to operate all of our programs to help provide the safest community possible."

Lohrman said the staff must immediately notify and consult with parole officials when a resident leaves without permission or is terminated from the program.

The agency also will be working with state and local authorities to institute an electronic detainer policy allowing the immediate arrest and detention of any person evicted from the halfway house.

The committee recommended that the parole authority work with police on such a mechanism. The committee noted in the review that Kirkland had served his prison sentence when he was released to the halfway house in October.

Without the services of the center, parole officials would have had no option other than to release Kirkland onto the street, the committee said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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