Following the arrest of Clarence Shaffer, the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a HACC student earlier this week, legal experts say there was little that could have been done to prevent what happened, even though there were documented concerns about Shaffer’s potential to offend again.
Shaffer was released from prison last week after serving the maximum sentence he received from a prior conviction in 1999. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said that was a similar case to this recent one. In 1995, Freed said Shaffer abducted a young woman at Central Penn College.
As part of a plea agreement, he received a sentence of four to 14 years in prison. In the following years, Freed said Shaffer ended up on parole in 2003 and again later. But, each time he violated the conditions of his release.
After police arrested Shaffer Tuesday, he told Fox43 he wanted to return to prison “because it’s the only thing I have.”
The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole documented its concerns about Shaffer’s release, including whether he might endanger another person.
“There’s no legal process to hold somebody after they’ve reached their maximum sentence. He’s a lifetime registrant under Megan’s law. That’s about the only thing that’s out there,” said Freed. “We in the system can do a lot of things. But, if someone’s determined to commit a criminal act, they’re going to do it.”
Fox43 legal analyst Steven Breit concurred, saying this pattern of behavior is one he’s seen many times before.
“They’re used to the routine (in prison). And some of them do very well in that environment. This is an individual that probably cannot function outside of that environment,” said Breit. “And there are offenders that just cannot be rehabilitated. This is one of them.”
Shaffer is being held at the Cumberland County prison and faces several charges including kidnapping and sex crimes.