Fresno Okays Correctional Facility

March 26, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno City Council members approved a controversial halfway house and privately run correctional facility along 'motel drive' Tuesday night, despite a crowd of people who showed up to protest the move. The former hotel will eventually house up to 300 women. Fresno City Councilmember Mike Dages and Henry T. Perea were the only two council members who voted against the project. "I just can't see myself supporting this today," Dages said, as he explained approving the project would give a green light for others throughout the city.

Neighborhood residents and community activist Carissa Phelps also attended the meeting. "We've just seen the City of Fresno really cement us in some bad precedence that sets up to be a dumping ground for prisoners all over the state," Phelps said as she left the council chambers.

A private developer plans to turn the old Hacienda Hotel into a transitional housing facility, drug treatment center, and privately run correctional facility. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told the city council the facilities are going to become common throughout California, as the state works to downsize the prison system by 40 thousand inmates. He told council members, "I truly believe that reentry facilities must be a part of the future in Fresno and Fresno County."

Developers said the facility will be secure. They also said they'll pay $400,000 dollars a year to have the facility patrolled by a Fresno Police cadet.

Phelps says those opposed to the project will now try to appeal to a grand jury and also file a lawsuit.