The Harney County Community Corrections is facing a problem that affects all citizens, neighborhoods and schools in the community. According to Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup, when the state of Oregon turned over the control and funding for Community Corrections to the counties, it also required the counties to provide transitional housing to inmates returning from the state prison system to their counties of residence.
The easy answer, said Glerup, would be for the counties to say they do not want these individuals in their communities. However, state statute requires that these parolees be returned to the counties, where their home address was when they were sentenced to the state prison system. The statute also states that if the individual does not have the funds or family in the area to provide housing, Community Corrections will provide that housing until the parolee finds work or other income to provide their own housing. Currently, in Harney County, apartments and motel rooms are being used to house these parolees, at a major expense to the corrections department. Many of the parolees are convicted sex offenders or drug dealers, so it is difficult to find housing that is not near a school, church, or other public places, where children congregate or play, said Glerup. Many landlords will not rent to a convicted sex offender or drug violator. Many of the parolees have been housed near schools and parks because that was the only housing available.
Harney County Community Corrections is currently applying for a grant to build or purchase a building that will be used for transitional housing for returning parolees. They are discussing locations, building plans and operational plans for the facility.
Sheriff Glerup said that Community Corrections knows there is no perfect location for such a facility, because it will undoubtedly be next to someone’s house or business. Therefore, two community meetings will be held during January to discuss the grant for the transitional housing.
The meetings will be held on Jan. 8 and Jan. 22. Both meetings will be held at 7 p.m. in the basement meeting room at the Harney County Courthouse. All interested citizens are encouraged to attend.