Supervisors approve PAAR agreement
Superintendent not pleased with response
Pointing out the practice of housing low-level offenders at the PAAR Center facilities in Porterville has been going on for some time, county supervisors Tuesday approved a funding agreement with the Center.
The agreement for $150,000 will pay the rehabilitation center for taking in offenders recently released from state prison and providing them with counseling services.
The matter drew the attention of John Snavely, superintendent of the Porterville Unified School District, who noted the proximity of the four PAAR houses to Belleview Elementary School. The PAAR facilities are across the street and Snavely indicated the school district was not aware of the agreement that had state offenders housed there.
“As you know, schools are hyper-alert to school safety on our campuses,” he said, but added the PAAR Center has been an “excellent neighbor” and that the schools have never had a problem with it.
“But, it is located right across from school, so not only do we have a traditional risk, but this added element,” he told the supervisors.
However, Snavely said he was concerned that he learned about the housing of parolees across the street from an elementary school by reading it in The Recorder, saying “it raised a red flag.”
“We’re asking to be more a part of the dialogue, so when we receive calls from parents we can tell them the county is just as concerned about the safety of children as we are,” he concluded.
Christie Myer, chief probation officer for the county, assured the board and Snavely that the safety of the children is important to her staff as well.
“These are considered non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenders,” she said.
Myer added that the practice of housing parolees has been going on for “five or seven years” and those used to be state parolees. Now, they are local parolees and the program is part of the state’s attempt to house low-level offenders in the county, rather that in state facilities.
“These clients, or patients, are no different than those housed there in the past. It’s just a different source of revenue,” said Fifth District Supervisor Mike Ennis, who acknowledged he got a lot of phone calls on Monday.
Myer said the program has proven very successful. She said out of 56 parolees, only 13 were terminated from the program and more than 40 have been graduated. “The balance has done extremely well,” she said.
Offenders can stay anywhere from 60 to 90 days at the PAAR Center, and on average no more than 15 stay there at one time.
Snavely said later he was not totally pleased with the board’s response.
“There was little acknowledgement of our concerns,” he said. He also said the reference that the center cannot hold sex offenders was not sincere, since by law sex offenders cannot live that close to a school.
He said he was pleased that Myer agreed to sit down with him and discuss the concerns, one of which he said is the contract between the county and PAAR does not place limits on the type of parolee that can be housed across the street from the school.