To the Editor:
Did you know that there are four halfway houses within a 15-block radius in and around the Auburn section of Cranston?
Did you know that there are at least three methadone clinics within a 15-block radius in and around Auburn?
I was astonished when I discovered that Auburn was being inundated by these privatized businesses, and we, as the taxpayers and residents, have no legal right to slow or stop their advance. I found the definition of “halfway houses” in the Cranston Municipal Code Book as, “a residential facility for adults or children who have been institutionalized for criminal conduct and who require a group setting to facilitate the transition to a functional member of society.” This means that for one to be placed in a halfway house, they must have committed a crime.
I wish to ask some questions I believe are of great importance to our local government and General Assembly about this situation.
1. Why do these businesses need not inform their prospective neighbors of their intentions to buy in our communities? Don’t they need variances like other businesses, and if not, why?
2. Why do they spring up so close to our schools, daycares and playgrounds? One methadone clinic is within a block of a child’s daycare and one halfway house is across the street from a playground and a school.
3. Do they need business licenses?
4. Can the halfway houses hold child molesters, felons, murderers and dangerous criminals, as stated in Rep. Teresa Tanzi’s op-ed in the Cranston Herald, “Revising the ‘good time’ bill for the good of all?”
5. Can those released into halfway houses walk unsupervised in our neighborhoods?
6. Is there any plan to limit the number of halfway houses and methadone clinics in any one neighborhood?
7. Why are our police not informed of their locations or who is residing in the halfway houses? I believe this information is vital to our police conducting their job of protecting the community.
8. The police informed our Crime Watch of the addition of 10 more police in Cranston. Will we be receiving a more substantial police presence in Auburn, since well over half of the halfway houses located in Cranston are here?
9. Our property values in parts of Cranston are significantly decreasing. Will this situation exacerbate a further decline?
10. Who owns these businesses and what are their standards for hiring their employees? Why are we not privy to this information?
I believe that the answers to all these questions should be public information. I also believe that our Crime Watch, for which I am the coordinator, is needed more than ever here in Auburn. The Central Cranston Crime Watch places personal safety education and information for the public, while working with our dedicated police force. These are the keys to preventing crime in our communities of Auburn and Eden Park.
No one is saying that we don’t need halfway houses to help those leaving the prison system lead a productive life, but I believe that the “good time bill” was passed too quickly through the General Assembly because of time restraints. Limiting the amount of halfway houses and methadone clinics that can be placed in an area, informing the police and keeping the communities advised of all aspects of this situation, I believe, is vital to keep the credibility of a neighborhood. I ask the legislators to revisit this bill and make the changes needed to protect our homes, children and communities throughout Rhode Island.
I would be available to join any committee that is formed by our local or state government to study or make changes to this situation. If you believe as I do, please contact me.
Candidate for City Council, Ward 2