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By Brian Fraga
Standard-Times staff writer
September 12, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD - Police have arrested 11 people since mid-July for failing to register as sex offenders.
The individuals had not complied with state laws that required them to inform police where they are living and working, officials said.
Detectives made the arrests in a new enforcement initiative funded by a $63,000 federal grant that the Police Department received in July.
The grant, awarded through the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, will help cover overtime and equipment expenses for detectives to verify the home and work addresses of the city's registered sex offenders.
Since receiving the grant, juvenile and sexual assault detectives have visited the listed residences of more than 100 offenders, police spokesman Lt. Jeffrey P. Silva said.
"This is targeted sex offender enforcement that puts some teeth in the laws."
State law requires individuals convicted of sex crimes to register with the police upon their release from jail. They also must re-register with police at least 10 days before moving or beginning a new job.
Homeless sex offenders are mandated to report to police every 45 days to verify their registration.
Saundra Edwards, chairwoman of the state Sex Offender Registry Board, said the federal grant is paying dividends.
"New Bedford's police officers are doing upstanding work," she said.
At least 23 sex offenders in New Bedford remain at large for not registering with the police, officials said.
With limited resources and an ever-growing sex crimes case load, city officials said it is not always easy for police to keep close tabs on the 283 registered Level 2 and 3 offenders.
A recent arrest highlights the problem. On Wednesday, detectives arrested Allen Thurston, 36, a Level 3 offender convicted in 1996 for rape of a child. He was wanted for failing to register.
It was Mr. Thurston's third arrest for failing to register. He was convicted in 2004 and served 60 days in jail. In 2006, he was convicted again and sentenced to six months in jail.
If convicted a third time, Mr. Thurston faces at least five years in state prison.
Arraigned Thursday in New Bedford District Court, prosecutors sought to revoke his bail on a pending case for assault and battery. Judge Bernadette Sabra instead ordered him held on $1,000 cash bail. Prosecutors unsuccessfully requested that the new bail be increased to $5,000.
Lt. Silva was critical of the judge's ruling.
"Once again, the police arrested the worst of the worst of sexual predators," Lt. Silva said. "Once again, there was a judge in a position to protect the community and hold him. She inexplicably opted to make him eligible for bail."
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