September 20, 2019

Transitional house in Standish in compliance with law

Posted

STANDISH — While community members have voiced concerns to city officials about a transitional house on Church Street that has been in operation since January, the house is not in violation of the law and is therefore allowed to stay.

“We’ve been getting complaints and concerns from residents,” City Manager Jerry Nelson said. “And all we’ve been telling them is (parolees) are not required to report to us, they’re not required to tell us that they were going to be living there — they have no requirements to the city whatsoever.”

According to the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act of 2006, community correction centers, residential homes, halfway houses or similar facilities that house inmate populations under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections are exempt from special use or conditional permits.

MDOC Communications Representative Holly Kramer said the five parolees currently living in the house have agents who work with them.

“Any offenders who are there are actively under supervision and they’re closely monitored by the MDOC,” Kramer said. “They must regularly report to their agent and their agent also periodically checks on them at home. Some of the individuals at that home are also subject to electronic monitoring.”

This kind of monitoring allows parolees to be monitored by GPS so their location can be tracked at all times, she said.

“If anyone living in the area does have concerns or they do notice something unusual, they certainly should call law enforcement authorities,” Kramer added.

Kramer said it’s worth noting there have been no reported problems since the house has been operating.

“Those individuals who are there, they served their time,” she said. “And now they are under a period of supervision in the community where they can be monitored by our field agents to help make sure their transition back to the community is successful and they remain law- abiding citizens.”

MDOC Spokesman Chris Gautz said transitional housing offers parolees short-term housing, typically for no more than 90 days, to help find them employment and eventually move in with a friend or family member.

“When you talk about the success of someone who has come out of prison, some of the biggest drivers of them being successful and not returning to prison are stable housing and employment,” Gautz said.

Arenac County Undersheriff Don McIntyre said the sheriff’s department has also received calls from concerned citizens, and they are there to help if any problems arise.

“If anyone feels that any of these offenders are in violation, they can contact the sheriff’s office and we will investigate,” McIntyre said.

Nelson said while the city has no control of the situation, citizens are also welcome to call or stop in at the city office to voice their concerns or have a conversation.

“Certain guidelines are there, so you can’t keep certain things out of your community,” he said. “So that’s the way it is.”

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