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Sex offender recommitted, and judge blames system

Blasting the entire system of civil confinement of sex offenders, a judge last week committed Michael W. Matter of Buffalo to a mental institution while denouncing the "callousness" with which state parole officers and counselors treated him.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., who in 2010 freed Matter from institutionalization, acknowledged that Matter is a pedophile.

Matter was convicted in 1997 of felonies in both Erie and Niagara counties for sexually abusing two sisters. He served almost 11 years in prison and 21 months in a mental institution before Kloch ordered him released.

Last November, after Matter had lived on his own for a year and a half without incident, Kloch placed him on Strict and Intensive Supervision and Treatment, or SIST.

That's a parole regimen for which Kloch specified 82 rules. Violating any of them could have resulted in Matter being punished with commitment.

Kloch said parole officers at the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and counselors at Mid-Erie Counseling and Treatment undermined his order that Matter be allowed to live in the community under supervision.

"The court believes Parole and Mid-Erie will never allow this to happen," Kloch wrote. "Instead, Parole and Mid-Erie would prefer the state taxpayers pay $250,000 a year to have Mr. Matter committed. That is a better alternative to them than doing their job and trying to fulfill the court order for SIST. There is a word for that: callousness."

In his month on the supervisory program, Matter, 46, lost his job, lost a relationship with his fiancee, was evicted from his apartment in the Riverside section of Buffalo and became a homeless resident of the City Mission.

"It is clear that the parole officer and therapists were put off by Mr. Matter. The animus projected toward Mr. Matter throughout this proceeding literally was pooling on the courtroom floor," Kloch wrote.

But he conceded that "in the absence of a job, residence or stability, [Matter] will be unable to control his behavior."

Matter was arrested for missing an appointment with a Mid-Erie counselor at the parole office at Main and Court streets at 2 p.m. Dec. 6. He had kept a 12:30 p.m. substance abuse screening appointment at Mid-Erie's office at 1131 Broadway, which he left at 1:45.

"Mr. Matter had no automobile, and it was impossible for him to walk to Court and Main in 15 minutes. Anyone remotely familiar with Buffalo -- such as someone who works downtown -- would know this," Kloch wrote.

Witnesses at a March 29 court hearing said they thought Matter could take the bus.

According to the Metro Bus website, Bus 4B stops at Broadway and Sweet Street, the closest intersection to 1131 Broadway, at 1:46. A person who caught that bus would be at Main and Court in 12 minutes. But if he missed that bus, the next one wasn't until 2:06.

"Sometime around 3 p.m., Mr. Matter appeared at the office. This 'missed' appointment served as the primary basis for the state filing a violation petition," Kloch wrote.

Officials at Parole, Mid-Erie and the state attorney general's office could not be reached to comment Saturday.