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March 17, 2013

Longtime Essex County probation chief to retire

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The Ticonderoga man has been convicted only of misdemeanors, like harassment and disorderly conduct, so he may serve a short sentence in the Essex County Jail then go on a period of probation, repeating year after year.

“He is a unique case,” McDonald said.

His office keeps close tabs on anyone on probation for a sex crime, he said.

“To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never had a sex offender reoffend while on probation.”

He said they have a software program that runs from a thumb drive, and when connected to a computer, searches it for pornography.

“We do a home visit and check their computer. We had two cases where child pornography was found.”

SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT

Evidence of child pornography is turned over to federal authorities for prosecution, he said.

In one case, the county went to a motel in Keeseville where a convicted sex offender was staying and used the program to discover he had an extensive collection of child porn on his laptop.

The man’s probation was ended, he went back to jail, and he was convicted and sentenced in federal court for possessing child pornography.

“It makes the community safer,” McDonald said. “We live here because we want to live in a safe area.”

McDonald said the multi-agency child-protection system they’ve set up is one his best achievements.

“We tried to make a system with a single point of contact. It’s helped with communications and coordination between agencies. We meet every month to talk about how it’s working and what we can do to improve it.”

LESS REIMBURSEMENT

Under the protection system, agencies coordinate services for children who are deemed at risk by the courts or an agency involved with the case.

In 1989, McDonald said, the state reimbursement rate for the County Probation Department was 46.5 percent; now it’s only 12 percent.

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