SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13) – A re-entry program for convicted felons could be coming to South Sacramento. But people who live nearby want the city to find another location.
“We feel that it’s inappropriate to bring it into a community!” said Effie Gant, president of the Hampton Station Neighborhood Association.
GEO Reentry Services applied for a conditional use permit back in December. The program would provide services for low-level offenders who live in Sacramento.
Right now, convicted felons released from jail have to go to Oakland, San Francisco or Fresno for rehabilitation services. But GEO Reentry Services wants to bring a day reporting center directly to Sacramento for people desperately trying to make a change in their lives.
“Both of my parents were drug addicts,” Ashlee Oriarte said. “I’ve used with both of my parents and my grandparents on both sides were all the way around alcoholics.”
A year behind bars and three fraud and counterfeit felonies later, Oriarte started the program at GEO Reentry Services in Napa the day she left jail.
“I’ve learned here in the last six months just a different way of coping with how the world works,” she told CBS 13.
Classes on life skills and drug education, as well as trauma groups are all a part of the day reporting program. And 6 months since she started, Oriarte has a job, a driver’s license and sobriety under her belt.
“It just brings you back into a world where you do belong,” she said. “March 19 this year, I’ll have one year clean. I’ve never had that much clean time since I started using drugs.”
It’s a success story that Rachel Kienzler, GEO’s Regional Business Development Director, wants to replicate at a proposed facility on Franklin Blvd. in South Sacramento.
“We don’t need them to be locked up, we need them to get treatment!” Kienzler said. “These are Sacramento residents. They are already living in Sacramento. They are going to continue to be coming back home to Sacramento and living there.”
But Gant wants them to find an alternate location, especially with three schools nearby.
“Our biggest concern is safety for our families,” she said. “The fact is that our youth will be exposed!”
And even though she supports rehabilitation, she says there’s no guarantee that one of the participants won’t slip up.
“Let’s face it, we know that there’s going be some temptations!” Gant said.
But Kienzler told CBS 13 the program would only serve 30 people and just 8 on-site at a time.
The participants typically have drug, fraud or internet offense convictions and have already been allowed to move back into their Sacramento neighborhoods.
“Someone who is charged with murder or something serious like that: they’re not coming into this program!” said Mary Butler, the Chief Probation Officer for Napa County Probation. “This structure and this process will give you a neighbor that you can be happy to have next door to you!”
And for Oriarte, it’s the little things that make her grateful to be a part of the program.
“I haven’t filed taxes in 5 plus years,” she said. “It’s something that makes me feel normal. It makes me feel like I can be a part of the real world.”
The city council is expected to debate the issue on March 6.