Corrections Company Meets With Parents About Parolee Program Near School
Friday, March 15, 2013 • 7:24am
PATERSON, NJ – Concerned about having a program for parolees across the street from their school, more than 40 parents and students from PANTHER Academy on Wednesday met with five representatives of the company that operates the center.
After staff from the Pennsylvania-based Kintock Group outlined the services at their Community Resource Center, which is supposed to help convicts make the transition from incarceration to being home, they answered questions from the parents. About 65 former prison inmates per day use the center, according to company officials.
Kintock spokeswoman Kimberly Follett told the PANTHER community that the state parole board approves the placement of clients at the center in decisions that are supposed to balance the individuals’ treatment needs while limiting the risk to the neighborhood. She said the center’s clients committed a wide range of offenses.
The parents asked for more details. “Wide range could be rapists, it could be simple drug dealing,’’ said Janet Caldero, president of the parents’ association at the school on Memorial Parkway. “Wide range is wide. It’s open to interpretation.’’
“Do you have child molesters? People involved with drugs?” asked another parent, Angel Sanchez.
Follett explained to the parents that said the types of offenses committed by Kintock’s clients at the facility change as different parolees come and go from the program. “Does it include people who have been convicted of sex offenses? Yes, it does. And our services include clinical services for that population,’’ said Follett. “There’s a benefit to these individuals getting these services. Regardless, they would be released to your community.’’
The center is located across Ellison Street from the school. Kintock staff members said the center’s policies forbid its clients to cross Ellison during cigarette and lunch breaks. Any parolees who cross the street face possible discipline, they said.
Clients usually participate in programs at the center for 90 to 120 days, according to Kintock staff. After first being released from corrections facilities, they spent a great deal of time at the center, staff said. But within several weeks, after they begin job training and other transitional services at other locations, the former inmates usually only go to the Ellison Street site for a couple of hours a day, they said.
“It’s unpredictable,’’ Caldero said. “You cannot predict what an individual might do.’’
“Of course, we can’t make a guarantee,’’ responded Follett. “We’re not here to represent we’re the saviors. But we’re committed to making your neighborhood safer.’’
The Kintock center has been operating on Ellison Street since 2003, according to the company. Until late last year, it used two sites in that area – one at 219 Ellison and another at 236 Ellison. But damage from a fire at an adjacent structure prompted the company to consolidate its program at 219 Ellison.
PANTHER (which stands for Paterson and NASA Together for High Expectations and Results) opened in September 2004 at the corner of Memorial Drive and Ellison Street. The state renovated and expanded an old commercial building. The Kintock program already was operating when the school opened. It is not clear whether the correctional program on Ellison predated the start of the school construction.
The PANTHER parents also asked about the security provide at the school itself. Paterson Public Schools Security Director James Smith said there are five security guards assigned to the school in addition to a retired city police officer, former Sgt. Ronald King, who spent 15 of his 27 years on the force in the juvenile bureau.
Caldero asked whether King carries his weapon at the school. Smith said a change implemented several months ago required the 12 retired police officers on the district’s security staff to stop carrying their weapons at the schools. “We’re trying to get that rectified,’’ Smith told the parents.
One of the parents asked if Kintock could provide them a tour of the center. Compay representatives agreed to arrange that.
“If there’s any message we want to deliver today, it’s our desire to be a good neighbor,’’ said Follett. “We understand that our being a neighbor to you is challenging.’’