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Proposed south Sacramento halfway house draws neighborhood backlash

6:05 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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Proposed site of South Sacramento halfway house

SOUTH SACRAMENTO - A proposal to turn a South Sacramento apartment complex into a halfway house for dozens of newly released federal felons is drawing fire from concerned residents.

The issue went before the County Planning Commission Monday night for review. The Commission decided to postpone a vote until they could secure more information, but only after more than three hours of public comment and discussion.

Residents are upset that the apartment complex on the 6100 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard in Lemon Hill could house as many as 50 beds for federal parolees.

"So you have a facility that is housing felons, federal felons that's only 2 blocks away from an elementary school," said resident Mel Raymond.

April Vaughn, a mother of 4 lives in the apartment right next door to the proposed site. To her, the prospect of living next to a halfway house is more than slightly unsettling.

"(I'm) very nervous. Very nervous. If they're felons, they was in jail for something not good. I wouldn't want them around my children," said Vaughn, a concerned parent.

But supporters say halfway homes are critical for parolees to succeed because they offer work training programs and other supportive services.

"I felt that cushion that the halfway house offered to reintegrate me into the society and the community was of viable importance to bringing me where I am today," said Charles Owens. He talked about his personal experiences and urged the commission to support the proposal.

Others say the proposed location in a high-crime area is setting the parolees up for failure.

"I believe we'd be setting the inmates up to fail because of the environment, the temptation," said Joel Prosser, who formerly operated a private Halfway House in Sacramento.

Behavioral Systems Southwest, the would-be operator of the halfway house, also says around-the-clock surveillance and regular unannounced checks by the Federal Bureau of Prisons would be utilized to reduce the likelihood of issues. The company also emphasized the fact there have been no problems at any of its facilities in Southern California and Arizona.

Still, more than 500 concerned residents have signed a petition to try and move the proposed complex somewhere else.

"We're still gathering signatures. As long as this keeps going, and keeps getting pushed out, we'll keep fighting it," said concerned resident Janell Schindler.

Monday night, the Sacramento County Planning Commission decided to table the issue until February 21st.

By Suzanne Phan, sphan@news10.net

Twitter: @suzannephan

News10/KXTV

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