So I understand that a number of people are upset about the plan to move some of the probation and parole offices to downtown. This really came to my attention when on Facebook, Angus Davis posted the following:
Governor Lincoln Chafee plans to relocate a parole office serving over 1,500 convicted criminals to the heart of Providence, which my company and others are trying to revitalize. This is an inside deal, a no-bid crony contract that would triple costs to taxpayers and was rushed through the state property commission with no debate just before Christmas. My letter: http://ang.us/KhkkK8 Please share + call Governor, (401) 222-2080 to oppose turning Kennedy Plaza into a Criminal Convention Center. Many of us are working to move Providence forward – this sets us back.
While I appreciate the concern, I also want to raise a few questions to help people fully reflect on this matter.
- Where, ideally, should parole and probation offices be located? It would seem to me they should be located near the central bus line, where people can most easily access them if they rely on public transportation. While the offices in the Dix Building of the Pastore complex are fine and will continue to serve many ex-offenders, they are not very centrally located and are not as easily accessed by bus as the Providence downtown area is.
- Do Angus Davis and others who have businesses downtown realize that ex-offenders are already downtown? Do they realize that many of them take the bus from Cranston and other outlying shelters to Providence and spend time there anyway? Do they also realize that current offenders do landscaping and garbage collection, among other jobs, and are also frequently downtown?
- What would it be like if, instead of categorically rejecting ex-offenders in the community, employers like Angus Davis considered setting up employment opportunities for ex-offenders in their businesses? They might find that some ex-offenders are quite employable and have a valuable contribution to make to society.
I welcome your feedback on this important matter.