Steven Ricci, 51, of Portland, who reoffended within days of his releases in the past, has completed a two-year term at the Maine Correctional Center for a 2013
Portland police on Friday began warning the public, particularly in the Nason’s Corner neighborhood, that an inmate with a history of indecent and assaultive behavior has been released from prison to his Brighton Avenue home.
Steven Ricci, 51, of 915 Brighton Ave., was freed Friday morning from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham after completing a two-year prison sentence, and is now beginning probation with extensive conditions, including GPS monitoring and a curfew.
But even with supervision by the probation department and case workers, Ricci’s release poses “a very dangerous situation for us in the city of Portland,” Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said at a news conference Friday outside police headquarters.
Ricci, who was born with brain damage and has cerebral palsy, has a criminal history extending back to the early 1990s with more than a dozen convictions. His offenses include indecent conduct, assault and violation of conditions of release. His lawyer, law enforcement officials and others have not been able to find him a suitable treatment program.
“There are still individuals in our community who need a lockdown facility with a very strong structure and a high supervisory quota,” Sauschuck said. “And Mr. Ricci certainly falls in that category. He needs sex offender treatment and he needs mental health treatment.
“His mental status and mental capabilities make him extremely high risk to reoffend here in our community.”
Police began distributing hundreds of written notices and contacted schools in the neighborhood near Ricci’s home, including Hall Elementary School and Breakwater School, telling neighbors to be aware that Ricci was free and likely to reoffend.
“We want to get the word out to our residents, to our community, that this situation is occurring,” Sauschuck said. “I don’t believe that releasing him to his residence to what is quoted as ‘self care’ is appropriate.”
Most recently, Ricci was sentenced in 2013 on a felony charge of assault on a medical worker for groping a female nurse’s breast and thigh at Mercy Hospital in Portland. He was given a 44-month sentence, with two years served at the Maine Correctional Center and the remainder suspended, followed by probation.
When Ricci was released from the Cumberland County Jail, in August 2012 after completing a sentence for misdemeanor indecent conduct, he was arrested within a week for masturbating on his front porch.
He was released from jail again in March 2012 after serving time for that incident, butwas arrested twice on new charges within three weeks.
This time, Ricci’s probation officer, Christopher Arbour, has imposed numerous probation conditions to ensure he is under close supervision.
The conditions require him to comply with GPS monitoring. He cannot go where children gather, such as parks, playgrounds, schools and daycare centers. He cannot use public trail systems. He must abide by a curfew, and not use alcohol, drugs or possess weapons. He has to submit to random searches by probation and police officers, and must undergo counseling and treatment. He cannot have house guests or tenants unless approved by the probation department.
Sauschuck said police, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Health and Human Services worked hard to try to find some other supervised option for Ricci, but were unsuccessful.
“I don’t believe he should be out. … I have yet to speak to anyone who thinks he should be out,” Sauschuck said. “But the system as it currently stands doesn’t allow for treatment of Mr. Ricci, which is certainly of concern to me and many others throughout the criminal justice system.”
The state has shut down most of its mental health facilities in recent decades. At its height in the 1960s, the Augusta Mental Health Institute had nearly 1,750 daily patients until it was closed in 2004 and the 92-bed Riverview Psychiatric Center took its place.
Ricci sent a letter to the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland a month before his release asking a judge to revise his sentence because he was concerned that he would reoffend. The court apparently did not act on Ricci’s written request, although that can’t be confirmed because the case file from that request is not public.
“The sad reality around Mr. Ricci is that every treatment program he’s been involved in, he’s been thrown out of pretty quickly because he has a difficult time dealing with his own impulses,” Sauschuck said. “That’s a big component of his mental status and his mental capabilities, that the impulse control really rules his day and that makes him very, very difficult to work with. He was thrown out of (a treatment program at the Windham prison) for assaulting staff.”
Ricci has never been required to register as a sex offender because his crimes have not met the state’s standard to require him to register.