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Curfew was broken by Jackson at work-release site on night of Waldo assault.

Curfew was broken by Jackson at work-release site on night of Waldo assault
TONY RIZZO, The Kansas City Star
PUBLICATION: Kansas City Star, The (MO)

SECTION: News

DATE: May 16, 2010

Page: A1
The rapist recently preying on women in the Waldo area struck for the fifth time on Feb. 22.

That same day, Bernard Jackson — now called by police a person of interest in those sexual assaults — was more than three hours late in returning to the prison work-release site where he lived.

Corrections officials issued a warrant for his arrest but canceled it when he returned.

It was the second time in two months that officials had issued an arrest warrant after Jackson missed curfew by at least three hours at the West Bottoms facility.

Typically, such rule violations would not be enough to send a parolee back to prison, officials said.

And in Jackson’s case, they weren’t.

Authorities will not provide any other details about his movements in and out of the halfway house on the nights of the five assaults attributed to the Waldo-area rapist.

Four of the five occurred during times when Jackson was supposed to be in the facility.

“Those are things I am unable to comment on pending the current criminal investigation,” said Jacqueline Lapine, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Kansas City police also are not commenting on the Waldo investigation. And a Jackson County judge has sealed search warrants served this month in connection with the attacks.

But according to sources close to the investigation, a laptop computer stolen from one Waldo rape victim first pointed investigators to Jackson. It was being used by a man who reportedly bought it from Jackson.

After recovering the laptop, police compared Jackson’s DNA, already in the national database because of his prior felonies, against a partial DNA sample taken from a lotion bottle the rapist used at a victim’s house, the sources said. The DNA showed a match, but police are continuing tests to see if they can get more definitive results, sources said.

No charges have been filed in the recent assaults. This month, authorities used DNA evidence to charge Jackson in four mid-1980s rapes that happened in the same general area as the recent attacks.

Jackson, 52, was paroled in December 2008 after serving 24 years in prison for a 1984 burglary and attempted rape in the Waldo area.

He was assigned to the Kansas City Community Release Center, a work-release facility at 651 Mulberry St. that houses about 300 offenders. Currently, 84 of them are registered sex offenders, authorities say.

The center provides a structured environment for offenders who may have difficulty making the change from prison straight into the community.

Center officials monitor comings and goings of offenders, who must have approval before leaving the facility, according to Lapine.

Offenders are required to obtain employment or be enrolled in an educational program outside the facility. They also are granted permission to leave for religious services, recreation time, meetings with attorneys or to obtain medical or mental health treatment.

“The hours that an offender is allowed to be away are individualized based on their needs,” Lapine said.

Jackson’s schedule during most of 2009 allowed him to be gone from the facility from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to records released by the department.

In November 2009 he got a job at a pork-processing plant in St. Joseph, according to information he provided for the state’s sex offender registry. Officials with that company have not responded to requests for information about Jackson’s hours and duties.

Corrections officials will not release information about a specific offender’s employment. But coinciding with that job change in November, Jackson obtained permission from the work-release facility to be gone from 3:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Authorities issued a warrant for his arrest Dec. 28, after Jackson missed curfew. Those warrants are issued only after an offender misses curfew by at least three hours. It’s unclear when he returned to the center, but no reported Waldo-area rape coincides with that date.

He missed curfew by more than three hours again Feb. 22, corrections officials said. A woman was raped from about 1:30 to 3 that morning in the 300 block of East 69th Terrace.

Despite those two curfew violations, Jackson’s curfew was extended in March to 11 p.m.

Lapine said that curfew violations could result in a recommendation that an offender’s parole be revoked, which would result in a return to prison. It could also be noted as an infraction, but not written up as a formal violation.

But typically such a curfew violation at a community release center would not be cause for parole revocation, she said.

Criminal defense attorney John Picerno, who has experience in parole and probation revocation cases, said offenders tend to be given leeway when they commit technical rule violations like missing curfew.

“If he’s not violating the law, they’re not going to send a guy back for something like that,” Picerno said.

As long as an offender is on parole, corrections officials can exercise some control over his or her behavior.

An offender who serves his entire sentence is released into the community without any supervision, Picerno noted.

Missouri currently has more than 74,000 people on parole or probation.

In addition to working in St. Joseph, Jackson also apparently started his own lawn care business, although prison officials won’t verify that.

Such business ventures are allowed, Lapine said, but must be found appropriate and be verified by officials.

When entering or leaving the release center, offenders must pass through a control center where staff members verify their schedules, which are maintained in a computer database.

While in the facility, offenders can move about during set hours — 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. At all other times they are restricted to their housing units.

Facility staff also conduct head counts three times each day to ensure that nobody is gone without permission.

To move out of the facility, offenders must develop a “home plan” approved by their parole officer. Jackson’s parole officer did not respond to a request for comment. Lapine said Jackson had discussed a home plan with his parole officer.

“However, there was not a formal home plan in place at the time of his arrest,” she said.

Kansas City police, who were investigating Jackson in connection with the recent Waldo rapes, arrested him May 5 after he failed to make curfew at the community center and officials issued a parole absconder warrant.

Jackson County prosecutors subsequently charged him for sexual assaults that occurred in the Waldo area in 1983 and 1984.

Assistant public defender Carie Allen, who represents Jackson on those charges, said Friday she had no comment. Police are continuing to investigate the more recent crimes.

Jackson previously was convicted of rape in Kansas City in 1977 and served six years in prison. He also was charged with committing a sexual assault in Sacramento, Calif., in 1984. Prosecutors there later dismissed the case because of speedy trial issues.

@ Go to KansasCity.com for more on the Waldo rape investigation, including court documents, photos and video of the woman who dated Bernard Jackson.