- Mark David
- Richard Laws
Richard Laws' release from prison in April caused a news media firestorm.
Authorities announced that a sex offender was being set free. Media outlets rushed to spread the word and even filmed Laws being dropped off in Burlington.
Police printed up flyers with his mug shot, warning the public. The notices wound up affixed to doors of ladies' room stalls in Burlington City Hall.
Laws had served his maximum 23-year sentence for raping and assaulting a woman in Waitsfield. Upon his release, the Department of Corrections designated him a "noncompliant, high-risk" offender — a designation reserved for only a handful of sex offenders — which triggered the announcement of his release.
Laws drew stares on Burlington's Church Street. Businesses that he'd never patronized took out no-trespass orders, instructing him to keep away.
He carried a cellphone police had given him but didn't know how to retrieve messages from it. Laws had few friends and little money and feared he'd become homeless. He insisted he wanted to get into sex offender treatment while in prison, only to be refused, and should not have been characterized as "noncompliant."
UPDATE: Laws, 49, has been living quietly in Barre. He landed a steady job, he told Seven Days, but declined to provide details.
Laws is still angry about the DOC's decision to publicize his release, and the resulting media whirlwind. "It's been a long, hard struggle for me over the last several months," he said. "I was totally unprepared to be thrown out like that, and they did nothing but hinder my chances of success. They weren't willing to do one thing to help me to have a chance."
Barre police confirmed that Laws has caused no problems.
Laws has begun to adapt to the technological changes that he missed in prison: He uses his cellphone frequently, and he can text.
Laws said he has voluntarily received mental health counseling. That, he stressed, is further proof that DOC officials "lied" when they claimed that he refused to enter a lengthy sex offender treatment program.
"Does it make any sense I wouldn't do an 18-month program if I've done six months of counseling out here and will continue to do it out here?" he asked.