Parents opposed to parole center get invite to governor's office

Posted at 7:21 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 12:53:22-04

Happy Valley parents are meeting next week with Governor Doug Ducey's staff about a new parole center they say puts their kids in danger.

The meeting was scheduled just hours before the grassroots group planned to protest Ducey at a Scottsdale event Thursday night.

The Maricopa Reentry Center serves 600 adult parolees. It offers drug treatment programs, housing for homeless parolees and other community corrections services. Up to 100 ex-convicts could live at the facility. It is located at I-17 and Pinnacle Peak Parkway in renovated buildings at the Adobe Mountain Juvenile Corrections Center.

Parents worry about homeless felons hanging out at nearby shopping centers or committing crimes in their neighborhoods.  

"We have had interactions with them in the public, so it does draw concern," said Julie Read who is leading the group opposing the facility.

"That kind of makes me nervous," neighbor Kelly Jackson said. "More crime is going to come in the area. Houses are going to get broken into."

"I don't think anybody likes the idea," neighbor Ernie Salazar said. "We have small children - a lot of small children."

Department of Corrections officials say the reentry center, which opened in July, offers programs proven to reduce recidivism and make the community safer. 

Governor Ducey proposed the center in January. Hearings were held at the capitol, and the community was invited to a meeting in May. 

After initial community uproar, Ducey announced that homeless sex offenders would no longer be allowed to sleep at the center while they looked for jobs and housing.