let a small group of citizens scare them into doing a rather stupid thing last Tuesday.Though the rejected treatment center in Austin was in a neighborhood near downtown, the Amarillo site was not, making it think it may be impossible to site new facilities in many communities if the Legislature doesn't act to break the NIMBYism logjam. A commenter at Jobsanger added that from the press coverage and debate over the facility, he was under the "impression it was in the middle of a neighborhood. Now that I went to maps.google.com and actually looked, other than outside the city limits, there's probably not any place any more appropriate."
The Aware Program, headed by Allen Graves, is a non-profit organization that does a lot of good in the Amarillo area. They do HIV counseling and testing, drug and alcohol counseling, operate a small food bank, run a GED program, and have a program to help juvenile offenders. They offer these services free of charge.
I know Allen and his excellent staff because they work with some of my clients. They are dedicated and competent people, who are willing to work long hours and go the extra mile to make sure their job is done right.
The program was trying to establish a live-in program which would house parolees and probationers who were being released from drug treatment (both prison and community-based programs). They would offer drug, emotional and job counseling to the clients and provide round-the-clock supervision.
The program is badly needed in the Amarillo area, which has very little in the way of aftercare programs. They had been promised a substantial grant from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (around $400,000), and all they needed was the approval of the city commission.
The situation seemed simple to those of us who understood the situation. These clients are going to come back to this area. They could come back under supervision and receive counseling and help, or they could be dumped back on our streets. The choice was a no-brainer.
But a small group of citizens thought they had a third choice. ... Rejecting the rehab program doesn't mean the clients won't come back here. They are from this area, and they're coming back whether the citizens and the city commission like it or not. Only now, they're going to come back without treatment, without counseling, without job training, and without supervision.
It doesn't take a genius to see that this makes our city a more dangerous place, not a less dangerous one.
When someone from Amarillo gets out of prison, they're not going to go somewhere else because the city won't let them have services. They're still going to go home. They'll just be more likely to get into trouble again, and wind up back in the criminal justice system. There's little sense to this decision, and a lot of harm caused.
Via Cat's Meow. See also coverage from the Amarillo Globe News and the Panhandle Truth Squad.