“The Federal Bureau of Prisons has initiated a proposal to put in a 300 Bed Male Prison Halfway house 200 ft. away from the Washington Global Middle School”

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via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (our federal govt.) has initiated a proposal to put in a 300 Bed Male Prison Halfway house 200 ft. away from the Washington Global Middle School in SW. This proposal seem to have been in the works for a few yrs now (published in May 2013), but it was only yesterday that I had ever heard of this initiative through our neighborhood forum. I don’t understand how/why the federal govt. is able to pull an initiative like this and bypass the City and the SW community so we don’t have a say on something so impacting to our community as this? How can the federal govt. think they can just put in a 300 bed house and that not be affecting our community, or at least have our voices be hear in the process? From Council member Charles Allen’s letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it doesn’t sound like the DC police dept. support this proposal either. Can someone help clarify and simplify what’s going on here? Is it a done deal?

Please see 3 attached public documents.

475School_Oppo_Ltr_CM_Allen_Final (PDF)

FINALCICHopeVillageReport052413 (PDF)

475School_Street_Halfway_House_Fact_Sheet (Word)

Thank you.

–concerned citizen in SW

34 Comment

  • I heard about this last night, but it was posted about a different location: https://capitolhillcorner.org/2016/05/22/rehab-center-proposes-300-bed-facility-for-lower-barracks-row-neighborhood/

    I don’t know much about this project–do they propose multiple sites and then select a final one, or is there some confusion about the location?

    • Valid question- the link you post seems to indicate that there are multiple letters from Allen on this project in opposition of different locations.

  • “Can someone help clarify and simplify what’s going on here?”
    .
    Yes. It’s often referred to as NIMBY. See, many people claim to want to change our country’s over incarceration problem. They say they want more people to get a second chance. They want the highly discriminatory system that puts way too many black men in prison to change. To implement changes usually requires alternatives to prison, such as half way houses. Then, when the Bureau of Prisons (our federal government) takes actions to build half way houses, the people who live near these proposed half way houses have a sudden change of heart. Yes, they say, we did want these men to have a second chance at building a life for themselves. We just don’t want it to happen near where we live.

    • We had to deal with the Mayor’s proposed homeless shelter that was literally going behind our backyard in SW (initiative that’s now been moved). It’s not we don’t want it in our backyard. We accept it, it is part of living in this great city. If you were at the community meetings across happening across the city in ever ward, we accept that these homeless shelters were being placed in every ward, but want to be IN THE PROCESS of making it work for our immediate neighborhood–not having it shoved down our throats–that’s what the Mayor did. Now this is what the Federal Bureau of Prisons is doing to our immediate neighborhood. They aren’t even taking the City’s or police dept. voices into consideration.

      • It’s not that we don’t want it in our backyard, it’s just that we didn’t like the location they selected that was literally in our back yard.

        When you open it up to public comment, someone always complains. The Mayor’s plan was revised by the council and now neighbors near the new locations are crying out saying they want a say in the process. So the council will revise again and pick new locations and and then new people will complain, and again and again and it will never get done.

    • I question the concentration of 300 beds in one location. Maybe it’s fine, but that’s a lot of people for one location to absorb.

    • Not NIMBY- Maybe not NEXT TO A SCHOOL for kids who are mainly low income and just want to go to school in peace. Do you think this would happen if this proposal came out to put a halfway house next to Sidwell? No. Students who are low-income should be shown the same respect.

  • Looks like a pretty good place for a halfway house. Not a residential area, lots of security personnel associated with surrounding agencies. Charter schools’ locations do not fall under public school restrictions – and they can locate in off-limits sites, such as Haynes on Georgia, sharing a wall with Lion Liquor Store.

  • Is this not a universal response? Who says “Yes, please give me a correctional facility right next door”?

  • The plan was published in 2013. Washington Global Middle School – a charter school – opened in 2015. So the school didn’t do their research and now the city should change the plan? This is half of the story being told in such a way to drive up outrage.

    • Wow, this is actually outrageous behavior… on the part of the OP. A school opened up near a planned site for a halfway house and now folks are trying to use that new school as leverage to derail the older halfway house? Stunning display of bad faith…

    • Excellent point! Sounds like the school didn’t do their research and now they’re all up in arms when they discover something that has been in the works since before they showed up. Caveat emptor, or something

      • Allen wasn’t notified until March 2016. It seems unlikely that this was widely available or publicized for a reason. Please use some common sense.

  • My mom lives in a condo that’s a block away from a halfway house (in California). It has been there for at least a couple decades. Funny thing is the crime rate in that neighborhood is also the lowest in the city (at least it used to be, not sure about the last couple years). Rents and housing in that area also are higher than most of DC. There is also at least one charter school that’s a couple blocks away. I concede it probably has 100 beds at most though, not 300.

    I understand the OP’s feelings; definitely think there should be a public forum of some sort for the proposal, but there are definitely worse things to go up in a neighborhood….

  • The FBOP solicitation can be found here – https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=630b96440b11bf2ca506503422a1c736&tab=core&tabmode=list&=
    Looks like it closed in March, so they might still be working on a selection.

  • I’m curious as to why if the proposal was published in 2013 is it not a huge issue until 2016?

  • Google Maps shows multiple marked police cars and what appears to be some sort of fire station in a non residential area if crime is the OPs concern.

    • I’m familiar with School St. as my company used to have an office there. There is a large police presence (half of the street is used for police parking) and a fire station. The area is pretty much a desert after 5 PM as offices and restaurants close. I think this would be one of the more ideal places in the city for something like this.

  • Linc Park SE

    One of the biggest issues for those transitioning out of incarceration is housing. It’s easier to keep a job when you have a regular place to sleep, get mail, have a contact location for your P.O. etc. This seems like a good location.

    BTW – there is government housing (apartments) at 8th/E NW – by the Navy Memorial – some of it for inmates transitioning back into society. This kind of housing is everywhere. You’ll be fine.

  • ” I don’t understand how/why the federal govt. is able to pull an initiative like this and bypass the City…”

    The constitution grants the U.S. Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the District. While the DC government has certain powers, Congress maintains the power to overturn local laws and exercises greater oversight of the city than exists for any U.S. state.

  • NEWS FLASH – 1010 K Street NW was the home of the Bureau of Womens Prisons, later an all male halfway house (Now a MegaBus Stop…). Across the street? Gonzaga!!!! Please stop the panic mode. No massacres were reported during the life of those correctional houses.. Not the first, hopefully, not the last home for returning CITIZENS.

    • I think you have the address wrong, as Gonzaga is 9 blocks away from 1010 K NW. Perhaps 101 K?

      • Actually the St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church is adjacent to the school. The complex begins at 900 North Capitol St. NW directly across the street from where 1010 used to be.

  • I don’t necessarily understand why a federal prison should be smack dab in the middle of a major city’s downtown, but it’s not remotely the worse thing that could move into the neighborhood. I worked down the street from the jail by the Courthouse stop in Arlington for almost a year before I realized it wasn’t just another bland office building. It’s not like inmates are going to be loitering on the street or chilling outside the 7-11; if the building’s disguised to look like another federal office building, who will even notice what’s inside?

    • Its not a prison. Its a halfway house. The residents have served their time and are transitioning back into society.

      • They should have planned ahead and put away money during their incarceration so they could buy a nice house in Fairfax when they got out.

        In all seriousness though, I’m not sure downtown DC is the best place for a halfway house. It doesn’t seem very cost effective and I’m not sure it puts the ex-felons in a great place to start over. I honestly didnt know the federal government was involved in providing transition housing like this. Its a great idea. One of the reasons we have to keep our criminals locked up for life in the United States is because we mark them with a red S, hit them with thousands in fines and court costs and we don’t provide for much of a transition after incarceration. Its hard to get started from nothing and we’re already talking about a group of people (felons) that don’t have a history of making great choices.

        • Cost-effective for whom? In what sense? SW is not downtown, and these people are not likely to come out of jail with cars, so we can’t throw them somewhere in loudoun county (where, unsurprisingly, people who also complain anyway).

        • Right near a Metro station, a short ride from employment and services (like counseling), is not a “great place to start over?” I mean, it’s not Fairfax, but it’s also not a high-crime, high-poverty area where many of these parolees will be put face-to-face with what put them in prison in the first place. I would think being in a quiet, non-residential area close to transit might be the perfect place to get back on their feet, so they have something to lose when they’re no longer in transitional housing.
          .
          As for being cost effective, maybe the feds already own the building? That area is largely federal offices (hence “Federal Center SW”), so it’s entirely possible they’re just converting owned property to a new use. Not free, but doesn’t come with the high acquisition costs of a new site.

      • technically they’re still serving time in a halfway house, albeit not in prison. It’s transitional and somewhat analogous to parole with less independence. There are strict conditions, monitoring, employment requirements, drug testing, etc. Violations can result in being returned to prison.

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