Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 31, 2008 at 1:55pm

Newsflash: Tacoma Successfully Repels State Felon Placement *Grant*

For the first time I am aware of in 30 years, Tacoma has beaten back a State of Washington effort to locate a felon placement house in the city:

The state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development has withdrawn a controversial $1.1 million grant to a Tacoma group to provide temporary housing for inmates recently released from prison or jail.

The agency said it withdrew its conditional approval of funding for Citizens for Responsible Justice because of the group’s inability to fully document several elements, including its status as a 501c(3) nonprofit, its claim of close working relationships with neighbors and local police, and the availability of housing.

Incredible.  A big day for Tacoma in relation to felon placement.  One of the biggest in decades.

Here's the letter from the state to the would be felon housing provider rejecting the grant.  Community input is one of the cited reasons for the denial supporting the hope that people can make a difference.

Councilmember Connie Ladenburg stated it well in the Tacoma Weekly:

Connie Ladenburg expressed a similar view. “I want us to stop being the community of released offenders,” she said.

Commentary:

Dear Tacoma,

See, you can win.  You can make the city safe again.  You can raise yourself up and obtain some self respect for yourself.  It's possible.  You can do it again.  You need not be the dumping ground for the problems of the rest of the State of Washington.  Stand up.  All of the streets can be seen as safe one day.  The Department of Corrections icy grip on our city which has resulted in the victimization of our friends, familys and neighbors can be broken.  It was loosened a bit today.

Tacoma's problems are largely due to bad choices made in the past.  Yet, a better future can be obtained with better choices.

Steps like this can make Tacoma an attractive place to live again.  Hopefully, the dynamics between the Department of Corrections are finally changing.  No doubt it will take alot of follow up and monitoring.

Kudos to the many people who work on this.  First and foremost Gerry Horne. Hilltop Action coalition.  The neighbors at Life in Pierce County who took this on.  If someone is looking for an issue in which the Tacoma City Council has shown some leadership, this would be it.

If there is one issue that is going to be critical for companies and people thinking of moving here is the simple question of how habitable the city is going to be.

 

comments [14]  |  posted under dumping ground, felon, tacoma, washington

Comments

by Republican (By Default) on 1/31/2008 @ 4:25pm
We already have too much government in Tacoma. Hopefully the "The Department of Corrections icy grip on our city" will be only the first in a long list of agencies that we don't need to be forced to look elsewhere to house their bureaucracy.

by Erik on 1/31/2008 @ 6:41pm
We already have too much government in Tacoma. Hopefully the "The Department of Corrections icy grip on our city" will be only the first in a long list of agencies that we don't need to be forced to look elsewhere to house their bureaucracy.

Interestingly and sadly, the Department of Correction were invited to locate felons here 30 years ago. It was thought it would stimulate the economy here. Civic leaders had no idea the mayhem and victimization of Tacoma residents their decision would cause.

Here is the tell all Tacoma City Club Report

Tacoma City Club : Thirty Years of DOC in Pierce County: Is it Worth it?

by Catherine on 1/31/2008 @ 7:56pm
In Defense of CTED, they didn't set out to locate anything here, a grant applicant who happened to BE in Tacoma REQUESTED thier assisance. I would like to know how they did their grant scoring.

Again, to thier credit, when citizens raised the red flag they delayed their decision until they could review the facts.

Again to thier credit they worked with lawmakers, heard from citizens and electeds alike and recinded thier decision to fund C4RJ.

It should not have happened, but it also DID NOT happen. I would expect they will be revising some of their review standards at least...

by Catherine on 1/31/2008 @ 8:08pm
What is the date on that clip?

by Erik on 1/31/2008 @ 8:32pm
In Defense of CTED, they didn't set out to locate anything here, a grant applicant who happened to BE in Tacoma REQUESTED thier assistance. I would like to know how they did their grant scoring.

Thanks for posting Catherine. However, it is common knowledge that Tacoma and Pierce County has a disporportional amount of felons placed here.

They do deserve some credit in recinding their felon placement grant in Tacoma. For that Tacomans thanks them. With a recidivism rate rate of 67 for felons of 67 percent that Horne cies, they probably saved a good number of Tacomans from being victimized in the near future.

Now, hopefully, the State of Washington will cease trying to make Pierce County the defacto felon placement center for the rest of the state wether it be through the Department of Corrections, CTED or some other state agency.

Local residents and leaders alike have been asleep at the wheel for 30 years on this issue. Hopefully, today is another turning point. I do know that there are a number of groups and media sources that will be monitoring the felon placements in Pierce County each month so that the DOC shell games will be more difficult.

Too harsh? Take a look at this correspondence from Prosecutor Horne on the DOC tactics in felony placements employed in Pierce County to bypass much public scrutiny.


by SouthEnd on 1/31/2008 @ 9:26pm
I too would like to give some credit to CTED for investigating a little further and our lawmakers for coming up with a solution. Our voices were heard. However, we have become a dumping ground and it is has been all too easy to put these programs here in Tacoma. Something hopefully will come of this and we can start to look at not having to fight this battle over and over again. It was nice to see the different neighborhoods come together and speak with one voice.

Pat

by Erik on 1/31/2008 @ 9:34pm
It was nice to see the different neighborhoods come together and speak with one voice.

They have too. The DOC, legislature and the press considers Pierce County to be one unit for felon counting.

We are already outgunned by King and Snohomish County. Plus, felons often travel around in the surrounding areas to commit crimes.

by Erik on 1/31/2008 @ 9:48pm
It may not be over for Pierce County according to the new TNT article:

Will Graham, assistant director of housing for CTED, said the state might give the money to another Pierce County organization that applied, but it’s possible it could go elsewhere, too.

by Catherine on 2/1/2008 @ 1:12pm
"Thanks for posting Catherine. However, it is common knowledge that Tacoma and Pierce County has a disproportional amount of felons placed here. "

Lordy Eric, I did not dispute that. The other organization in Pierce County that applied, according to the Tacoma Weekly, is Global Outreach, also in Tacoma. Additionally most of the placements for "Pierce County” have in fact been in Tacoma. We have about 50% home ownership and a disproportionate rate of poverty as well.

I think there is a larger discussion to be had here also, If C4RJ and this other organization were the best applicants for the money then we have some problems with our social service net state wide. No I am not saying I want more here, trust me, I am very aware of the impacts on our communities.

Eric, I guess I don't know if you realize how many neighborhoods and community groups came together on this one. 'They have to' you noted to Pat, however historically that has not happened for a variety of reasons. What's more I would suggest "We" have to, rather than "they." Even a majority of neighborhood councils came together -- and that's rare. We can all work together and we have more power as one voice.


As you have well articulated this problem affects the whole city and the whole county. "WE" have to keep fighting it. I am on the same side you are Eric. Historically no matter who came together the felons would still be in our back-yard.

It's together that we build a better Tacoma. This was a great example of how to.




by scout on 2/1/2008 @ 1:27pm
Catherine: I'm not sure what you are objecting to in this thread - Can you clarify

by Catherine on 2/1/2008 @ 1:40pm
Scout: Initially I was objecting to the inference that the DOC or CTED were/are out to get us. We invited them and hence we were the path of least resistance. C4RJ again invited them with thier application, and before the red flags were pointed out, simply were accepting that invitation.

Then I was objecting to Eric's dismissal of my comments that further infered that I was debating the fact that we have a disproportiate amount of felons.

Lastly I was taking issue with Eric's use of the word "they" in "they need to keep fighting", I am part of the "they" he refers to, that includes Pat, however, since we have abudnantly defined it as a Tacoma issue I proposed that rather "WE" need to keep fighting it. Not just the neighborhoods where facilities may be placed, but the whole city.

Oh never mind. ...

by Erik on 2/1/2008 @ 7:36pm
As you have well articulated this problem affects the whole city and the whole county. "WE" have to keep fighting it

Very true. Its going to take alot of vigilance on many people's part to get Tacoma and Pierce County back to a place where they have no more than their porportionate share of felons.

The state has many different programs that effect felon placement. With the lack of facilities in some counties, the ease of placement and low housing costs in Pierce County, it is going to continue to be a large challenge. Fortunately, there is a great source of information gathering on DOC and sharing of information than ever and more interest in the matter than perhaps ever.

by Grateful on 2/2/2008 @ 10:51am
Yes, there ARE big issues at play here.

This was a huge step forward!

I for one - am very grateful for collective communities saying with one voice NO!

This would have never gotten the momentum had it not been for neighborhoods looking at the impact and risks and stepping forward.

Thanks neighbors!

by Erik on 2/2/2008 @ 11:06am
This would have never gotten the momentum had it not been for neighborhoods looking at the impact and risks and stepping forward.

Thanks neighbors!


Yep. Alot of people worked on this from dozens of different angles. Tacoma residents demanded it.

However, we are still too much in a reaction mode to the felon placement efforts from the state. We need to have a systematic way I think in the long runto monitor the Department of Corrections or any other agency the state chooses to place felons here.

The Fair Share legislation is far to discretionary to automatically reduce the disportionate amout of felon placements.

The News Tribune has been making Freedom of Information Act Requests for the DOC. Gerry Horne had one of his investigators work on the issue.

Then I think we need some kind of months compilation of the information so everyone can see how we are doing. Sort of like the weather report or pollution report. Graphing ability would be good too.