CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Corrections suspended a long-running sex offender treatment program, and is conducting an internal investigation to determine if sex offenders or other inmates in medium security were given access to computers.
Inmates are not allowed to use computers while incarcerated, and sex offenders getting on the internet would be considered a more disturbing concern due to the potential electronic access to the world beyond the razor wire. RIDOC spokesperson Susan Lamkins said the medium security sex offender population hovers around 80, but she said not all of them participate in the treatment program.
Lamkins was unsure when the potential breach was discovered or how long it possibly lasted, and she said it is unknown whether or not any information or pictures were sent out or received by the computers. Lamkins said about 4 computers were in an employees-only room in medium security.
“The Director (A.T. Wall) was told that a contract employee, who provides services to sex offenders, may have allowed the inmates access to computers,” Lamkins said in a statement.
According to the sex offender treatment program contract, which runs through June 30, 2015, Peter Loss ACSW, Inc. is the contract employee. The contract was signed by Loss in 2012 and pays the Connecticut based company $105,000 a year. The RIDOC website states “Loss has been providing sex offender treatment at the RIDOC for 18 years and has established a strong working relationship with the Department.”
Lamkins did not know how many inmates were possibly given access to the computer room but she said Wall reacted quickly after the potential breach was discovered.
“The Director immediately suspended the program and has asked the Office of Inspections to investigate the matter,” Lamkins said.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven O’Donnell confirmed that two state troopers, who are stationed at the Cranston prison, removed the computers last week. He said the hard drives will be analyzed to uncover whether or not any data was sent out, or received.
Target 12 reached out to Loss by phone but he has not returned the call. According to the RIDOC website, Loss “is well respected by the Institutions and Operations staffs who know how strongly he holds individuals accountable for their behaviors.”
According to the contract, the program is supposed to offer several services, including sex offender treatment, written evaluations for the Parole Board and in-service training for correctional officers. As part of the pact, Loss is also required to write risk assessments for each participant.
Lamkins said there were no records indicating Loss had been disciplined by RIDOC during the past 18 years. Neither Lamkins nor state police would estimate how long the investigation will take.