Temporary injunction halts transfer of Jeffco sex offender to facility near elementary school

Tyrone Bennett
Tyrone Bennett(Alabama Law Enforcement Agency)
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 3:35 PM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 3:51 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A Jefferson County criminal defendant is at the center of a legal issue spanning two counties.

Late Friday, Autauga County Circuit Judge Bill Lewis granted a temporary restraining order to stop the state from transferring a convicted sex offender to a facility in Prattville located 800 feet from an elementary school, 300 feet from the city’s splash pad and other childcare providers.

Tyrone Bennett, a convicted felon from Jefferson County, is currently receiving treatment at a facility that’s run by Carastar Health and certified by the Alabama Department of Mental Health. The agency filed a motion to move Bennett to a neighboring Carastar Health facility in downtown Prattville. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Kandice Pickett granted that motion, ordering Bennett’s relocation noting he was no longer a threat to himself or others and listed multiple conditions that he must follow including no unsupervised contact with the public.

Court records also indicate concerns made by Autauga County law enforcement regarding Bennett’s transfer to Magnolia Wood, regarding the close vicinity to schools, businesses and a park where children frequent. They believe this is a direct violation of Alabama’s sex offender law which prohibits registered sex offenders from living 2000 feet from schools, daycares and churches.

Pickett filed a second order noting registered sex offenders under mental health supervision at a state authorized facility are exempt from the sex offender residency requirements.

Autauga County District Attorney CJ Robinson filed an emergency motion Friday requesting a temporary restraining order to stop Bennett’s transfer until the judge can hear arguments on the issue on Tuesday.

“This is a target-rich environment of children and I will do everything in my power to protect them,” Robinson stated.

A certificate filed by an attorney working for the Autauga County DA’s Office indicated a resident left the Prattville facility this week unsupervised.

“Additionally, [there] is no evidence of the Carastar Facility having any security, locked doors or any other confines available to be used to secure the premises and or the Defendant,” attorney Chip Cleveland stated in the filing. “As a matter of fact, on May 25, 2023, a special needs resident of Carastar voluntarily abandoned the premises because no safeguards were in place and was ultimately located in Montgomery County, Alabama.”

WBRC also reached out to the Alabama Department of Mental Health for more information about this facility and the level of supervision Bennett would receive if transferred, so far we have not heard back.

This story will be updated as we learn new information.

Clarification: court records associated with this case ordered Bennett’s transfer to a Carastar Health facility in Prattville named Magnolia Wood. Carastar Health leases the building from Magnolia Wood, which is an unrelated business that provides services for adults with disabilities. Magnolia Health is not associated with this case or the care of the defendant or subsequent patients named in this story.

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