HARRISON, Ark. - An Arkansas community is worried that a new neighbor could increase crime and drive down property values.
Plans are in the works to build transitional housing for prison inmates near Omaha.
If approved by the state, parolees, potentially including sex offenders, would move into the facility. People who live in the area have collected nearly 500 signatures in opposition to the plan.
Alton Holsted recently received a letter saying transitional housing for former inmates could be coming to the Center Loop in Boone County, Arkansas. In Holsted's case... 1000 feet from his home.
"It affects everybody that's within walking distance of where people can get away and walk off and do stuff," Holstead said.
The facility would house 19 former inmates and the state requires sex offenders to be among those allowed.
Holsted gave us a tour of the proposed location. He also owns 15 acres on the opposite side that he purchased years ago for his kids.
"We've never done anything with it other than just enjoy it. And I don't really see how that will ever be possible if you have a facility right there beside it," Holstead said.
"I understand the concern... but without this, you will have the same parolees going back to your area, but they'll be staying wherever they can and the parole officer will have a much more difficult time keeping up with them," Dina Tyler, Arkansas Community Corrections (ACC) Deputy Director, said.
Tyler is with ACC - the group that issues the licenses for transitional housing.
She says housing,in this case 90 to 120 days, combined with steady employment, is the best bet to keep former inmates from going back to jail.
"I think it's in the best interest of everyone to know... where they're living and even more importantly, what they're doing," Tyler said. "It makes sense if you think about it. It's their one and only shot."
But Holstead says he feels differently, "12 miles out of Harrison, Arkansas, in the middle of a residential area, is most definitely not the place it needs to go."
Part of the licensing process includes a public meeting, and one is currently scheduled for March 8 in Harrison.