Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Offender Reentry

The November 10, 2007, issue of the Coeur d'Alene Press had an article headlined "Group homes surge as inmates exit prisions; neighbors furious." It was an Associated Press article authored by John Miller. Its focus was on larger Idaho cities that receive a disproportionate number of offenders after they have been released from prison. Our little town of Coeur d'Alene now has 13 group homes compared four last year.

I wonder if the City knows where these 13 homes are? It is doubtful that all 13 homes in Coeur d'Alene are compliant with applicable zoning ordinances and codes. Then again, the homes' managers have little to fear from the City of Coeur d'Alene. It selectively chooses which codes and ordinances it will enforce and which ones will be overlooked.

The failure of the City to enforce codes and ordinances and the minimally coordinated release of offenders eventually leads to varying levels of conflict between the neighbors and and released offender homes' managers. That conflict is often resolved by a call to the police. This is true elsewhere, not just in Coeur d'Alene.

To help police better prepare to deal with offender reentry, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have partnered to examine the potential for intensified law enforcement involvement in offender reentry efforts. The IACP hopes to reduce recidivism, disorder and victimization through increased law enforcement participation in offender reentry programs.

Together, the BJA and IACP have produced a downloadable DVD titled Offender Reentry: A Police Perspective.

They have also produced some downloadable publications, linked here:

Building An Offender Reentry Program: A Guide for Law Enforcement

Managing Sex Offenders: Citizens Supporting Law Enforcement

Sex Offenders in the Community: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies for Law Enforcement

Framing a Law Enforcement Response: Addressing Community Concerns about Sex Offenders


Anonymous stebbijo said...

So this is probably a dumb question but I will ask it anyway.

Are these group homes provided to the community via social agencies such as St. Vincent De Pauls - or The Salvation Army?

Why would the city turn a blind eye?

4:19 PM, November 20, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


It is not at all a dumb question. It is very possible, probably likely, fewer than five of the CdA group homes include shelters organized and operated by the social service agencies like you named. CdA zoning ordinances provide for criminal transition facilities to be established in commercial zones. What we have found in CdA is group homes being set up in areas zoned for single family dwellings, not commercial zoning. Even in residential zones it would be possible to have the homes provided the owner/operator applied for a special use permit. Most of them don't want to do that for one very good (in their mind) reason: That would mean a public hearing. The city and the Idaho Department of Correction and a sponsoring religious group prefer the neighbors not know that their new neighbors are rentrant offenders.

The City of Coeur d'Alene turns a blind eye because its zoning ordinances are badly out of date and possibly unenforceable. Public hearings would reveal just how derelict the City has been in addressing the issue of offender reentry and low income housing.

It would be easy to characterize protesting neighbors as being unsympathetic and uncaring. Not in my back yard. But both the Idaho Department of Correction and the religious group involved have a really bad track record of trying to "sneak" reentry housing illegally into stable residential neighborhoods without even discussing it with neighbors. When the neighbors notice suspicious activity, they call the police. Sometimes our local cops know and sometimes they don't know when they roll up that they are going to a house with convicted felons inside. They need to know that for officer safety. The neighbors are entitled to know if their neighbors are violent convicted felons or registered sex offenders that have been placed by the state.

The best solution is for the state and the religious organization to work cooperatively with the neighbors rather than deceptively excluding them before placing re-entrants.

5:24 PM, November 20, 2007  

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