Friday, 18 Jan 2019

New halfway house for 300 former inmates who will open next year in DC

A private company won a $ 60 million, five-year federal contract to open a halfway house for 300 former detainees in northeastern Washington. The contract follows controversial battles in recent years for which such a facility could open in the district and questions the future of Hope Village, the only men's transition house in the city. The federal prison office awarded the contract to Core DC on November 1, according to federal public records. A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons said the transition house would open on March 1 in an existing building at 3400 New York Ave. NE, an industrial area near the border with Maryland, isolated from neighborhoods by rail and rail. Kevin Donahue, deputy mayor of the district responsible for public safety, said in a statement that city officials had been made aware of this facility this week, adding that "we would have welcomed the opportunity to participate in their planning process, but we encourage the office to quickly start the community. and stakeholder engagement. The representatives of Core DC did not respond to several requests for comments. Kenyan R. McDuffie (D), a member of DC's Ward 5 Council, where the transition house will open, criticized "the lack of community engagement with the BOP regarding the installation, "the caller" unacceptable ".
A company won a contract to open a halfway house for 300 former prisoners at 3400 New York Ave. NE to Washington. (Justin Wm. Moyer / The Washington Post) "I ask residents to review the contract thoroughly," he said in a statement. Recent proposals to install a halfway house in the city have met with disapproval from residents and community leaders. In 2016, Core DC proposed two transitional home sites in the district, but none advanced after the opposition. At that time, McDuffie Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Council Member, opposed the construction of a halfway house on Edgewood Street, in the Northeast, citing "its proximity to several schools and businesses, as well as the number of beds proposed. , citing its proximity to condominium projects and a "tavern / nightclub serving the LGBT community of the region". "It has been difficult to locate a halfway house in the District of Columbia," said Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). "They may have taken into account the fact that this halfway house is not close to apartments or schools." Norton sent a letter Thursday to the Correctional Management & Communications Group, parent company of Core DC, Florida, to ask how the transition house would help Residents rehabilitate themselves to life outside the jail when it is "close to a metrorail metro station and seems be one kilometer from the nearest bus stop. She stated that she had not been consulted about the contract, which she described as a "flaw in the process". "Once that's a done deal, I'm not sure what anyone can do about it," she said. "You and I do not know much about it at the moment. This is a problem. According to the Bureau of Prisons, Hope Village's existing contract has been extended until February 28 – the day before the opening of the new transition house – and the basic DC contract "will replace the current contract." concluded with Hope Village. "The Bureau of Prisons did not discuss the future of Hope Village, which opened in 1978 off Suitland Parkway in the southeastern part of the country. [‘It does not have to be this way’: Report slams services for former inmates returning to D.C.] Reducing or closing the facility would be a significant change for the correctional system in place. Hope Village, which enjoyed a monopoly in the district, has sheltered generations of former detainees – and has been the target of complaints from activists concerned about the rights of those returning from jail. The last time a competitor won a similar contract, it was in 2003 – and this site was closed in 2006, leaving Hope Village the only player in a lucrative market. Since then, the facility has been awarded more than $ 125 million in federal contracts, according to federal records. A few days before the announcement of the contract with Core DC, the Hope Village general manager, Jeffrey Varone, congratulated his company, claiming that she had helped many former inmates find a life outside the prison . "I think we are doing a very good job," he said. "That's the reason we survived everyone. A lot of our staff has been here for 30 and 40 years. . . . We are truly committed to helping these returning citizens make a positive impact on their lives. Varone did not respond to requests for comments regarding the Hope Village contract or the entry of Core DC into the market. Lawyers and former residents of Hope Village claim that substandard care has been neglected for years, adding that men coming out of prison have nowhere else to go. Some who stayed at Hope Village say that its shortcomings are undeniable. "Hope Village is the ideal dump," said James Bethea, 63, who has reported making about nine transitional home stays since 1981, with his last departure in 2016. [To some, D.C. halfway house is more like ‘Hopeless Village’] Bethea has been a member of the criminal justice system since the age of 12 and has already served sentences for crimes including armed robbery and burglary. Bethea, a long-time drug addict who has been clean for about five months, said that unhealthy conditions, lack of placement services and illicit drug abuse made rehabilitation difficult. "To fight Hope Village's addiction, you have to be great, super strong," he said. Hope Village was pilloried by watchdogs in 2013, when the Corrections Information Council, a district body responsible for inspecting and monitoring conditions in DC Varone's prison, declined to comment on specific allegations. against the installation. Last year, the Council for Court Excellence, a non-profit organization advocating improvements to the city's criminal justice system, urged the Bureau of Prisons not to renew Hope Village's contract, citing insufficient services. for residents and violent crimes in the area. According to DC police, 29 homicides, 186 robberies and 276 assaults with a dangerous weapon occurred within 1,000 feet of the Village of Hope Village since 1978. Andre Wright, Commander of the Seventh District DC Police, who includes the village of Hope, consider the halfway house as a risk to public safety. Emily Tatro, Deputy Director of the Council for Court Excellence, said the activists have been calling for the closure of Hope Village for years. In a statement, she said she hopes residents of the DC facility will find better living conditions. "Although the general public and ourselves have received virtually no information about this new halfway house provider, the Council for Court Excellence hopes to provide client-centered services that preserve the dignity of residents and offer the support needed to make a successful return home, "she says. .

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