Friday, March 10, 2017

Director of Arkansas transitional home refusing to take registered citizens likens them to "nuclear warheads"

Scott Swanson is the seated man in plaid

I can't imagine a person who likens his clients to explosive weapons can be a very effective at counseling and running a transitional program.

Transitional Housing facility near Omaha barred; Refusal to take sex offenders stops proposal

Posted: Friday, March 3, 2017 3:00 pm |
By JAMES L. WHITE | 0 comments

Transitional Housing facility near Omaha barred; Refusal to take sex offenders stops proposal
A meeting about transitional housing for parolees will still be held Wednesday, but the license for a facility near Omaha has been put on a shelf because management didn’t want to take sex offenders.
Arkansas state Rep. Ron McNair told the Daily Times on Friday that he spoke with Arkansas Community Correction officials that day and was told the group opening the facility didn’t meet ACC regulations, so the license application had been pulled.
Lotus Recovery Services LLC had applied for an ACC Transitional Housing Facility License at 5035 Center Loop between Burlington and Omaha. It would accept non-violent prisoners released on parole and counsel them back to living on the outside, including securing employment for them.
When people living in that area heard about the proposal and saw the license application included accepting sex offenders, they rallied together, signing petitions to have the proposal stopped and taking to social media in droves.
McNair said he didn’t know if public outcry was a part of the ACC’s decision.
Jo McEntire, CEO of Giving Back Industries, said her agency is a partner with Lotus in developing the program.
McEntire said the regulation the partnership didn’t meet was that it didn’t want to take Level 3 and Level 4 sex offenders.
McEntire said the program the partners hoped to open would be for non-violent drug offenders released from prison.
“Our focus is recovery,” McEntire said earlier.
The group has spent years developing a program to teach addicts how to live without drugs, but helping rehabilitate sex offenders is a totally different undertaking.
“We do not know how to help the Level 3 and 4 sex offenders,” McEntire said Friday.
In an email to ACC officials, Scott Swanson, who had opened Oxford House addition recovery houses in the Harrison area and is a partner in the newest venture as well, used an analogy to explain Lotus’ position.
Swanson wrote that Lotus had agreed to take 20 or so “sticks of dynamite” that ACC would be releasing. The program Lotus developed would disarm those sticks of dynamite in hopes they would never be “re-fused.”
But as the project got closer, ACC informed Lotus that there would be a couple of “armed nuclear warheads” in the shipment that Lotus would have to figure out how to disarm.
“We have NO programs for sex offenders,” Swanson wrote.
Instead, Swanson wrote that he hoped to be able to help some of the 12,000 prisoners released, 80 percent of whom suffer with addiction, rather than the comparatively few sex offenders
In response, ACC officials said there would be no need for further discussion or negotiations with Lotus and the application would be considered inactive, and that the licensing process would be discontinued.
McEntire said the partnership will continue its efforts to develop transitional housing for addicts, but Friday’s development meant the Center Loop location won’t be possible.
But, she said the 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, meeting at the John Paul Hammerschmidt Center on the North Arkansas College South Campus will still be held for anyone interested.
The presentation will be the same even if the Center Loop location won’t work, McEntire said, adding that the partnership will continue exploring transitional housing for parolees suffering from addiction.

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