By Kelsey Bray
CHEYENNE - After residents said they wouldn't feel safe with a transitional sex offender house in their Dell Range Boulevard neighborhood, officials decided to pursue other options.
The program, called a shared living arrangement, would house three or more sex offenders recently released from prison. They would have been through inpatient treatment and would be responsible for rent and treatment costs.
The year-long program also would provide intensive supervision, counseling and treatment. It is part of an effort called “Transition From Prison to Community,” which helps inmates who are being released.
Officials had considered locating the program at 132 Dell Range Blvd. The site used to be an Oxford House, a home for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.
But several residents said the house was too close to day-care centers, parks and families with children to house sex offenders.
“There are a number of factors that the concerned neighbors we heard from raised,” said Steve Lindly, deputy director of the state Department of Corrections. “We determined in the end it wouldn’t be useful to have it at that location.”
For neighbors in the area, this was good news.
“I’m so relieved, because (officials) came into this not knowing the impact that the Oxford House had on our neighborhood,” Connie Moore said. “It used to be a neighborhood where nobody locked their doors. Now everyone has a security system.”
Neighbor Rosalind Schliske said the program was not a good fit for the area.
“The department of corrections has a difficult job, and I certainly understand that there’s a need for housing,” she said. “But to put it in a densely packed residential neighborhood wasn’t a good idea.”
Officials now will try to find another location for the program, which they say will help reduce recidivism and keep the public safer.
Kristy Oster is the department’s field services re-entry coordinator. She said they will look for locations in industrial areas, on the outskirts of town and with fewer children and day care centers.
“It’s going to be difficult to find a perfect location,” Oster said. “But those are things we’re going to be looking for.”
She added that the house can’t be too far out of town since it is hard for program participants to find transportation to and from work. It is also important that they are held accountable by community members.
“There are a lot of sex offenders that are amendable to treatment and can be held accountable,” she said.
Oster added that whatever location is looked at, they will make sure to notify people in that area.
“We’re hoping that if we can find a more conducive environment for this type of housing that we could still get people to join in with the overall goal of public safety,” she said.