[Hpn] ALBANY, OR - Policy of housing parolee in a tent ends in pneumonia - The World News - November 17, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Mon, 17 Nov 2003 23:28:31 -0500


Policy of housing parolee in a tent ends in pneumonia

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By AP Staff Writers - The World News - November 17, 2003

ALBANY, OR - An Oregon sheriff's policy of housing a paroled
sex offender in a tent ended with the man hospitalized for
pneumonia after a cold snap this month.

Linn County Sheriff Dave Burright moved Bruce Erbs, who is also
a convicted arsonist, to a $155-a-week motel on Wednesday after
Erbs spent eight days in a hospital.

Erbs had lived in the tent in a yard behind the jail since he
was released from a prison sentence in July.

He was among several Oregon parolees in two counties told to
camp rather than given transitional housing, in what officials
described as an economical solution that didn't pamper ex
cons.

Erbs' tent cost the county $45. He used a portable toilet and
showered at a nearby homeless shelter.

In his case, finding transitional housing had been complicated
by concerns landlords would be unable to find fire insurance to
house an arsonist, Burright said. The county is still looking
for permanent quarters, he said.

Erbs said he started to feel sick as temperatures dropped near
freezing in early November. Frost coated his tent. He said he
got diarrhea and couldn't get to the toilet.

On Nov. 4, parole officials found Erbs incoherent and sick. They
brought him to Samaritan Albany General Hospital, where he went
straight into the intensive care unit for two days with
pneumonia.

He was discharged from the hospital Wednesday and brought to The
Jolly Motel, paid partly with funds set aside for transitional
housing.

Erbs said he is pleased with his room. "It's a lot better than
the tent," he said.

"I'm staying out of trouble. I don't mean nobody no hurt," Erbs
said. "The deal that people can't change when they come outta
prison is bogus. They can do it if they put their mind to it."

Motel owner C. Pattel said he was aware of Erbs' past but
willing to take him as a boarder anyway. Along with a television
and refrigerator, the amenities include a gas stove. Erbs is not
allowed to possess matches as a condition of parole and cannot
use the stove. He warms food in a microwave, Pattel said.

Erbs was convicted twice for forcible sex offenses in the 1970s
and in 1989 burned down the landmark St. Mary's Catholic Church
in Albany.

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