During the Port of Hope’s hearings before the Coeur d’Alene City Planning Commission, some people expressed opinions that Port of Hope’s presence has jeopardized the safety of the community by providing transitional housing to registered sex offenders (RSO). To listen to them, Port of Hope is to blame for the presence of most of the RSOs near Fernan Elementary School and in the downtown flophouse motels. That’s nonsense.
Idaho Code, Title 18, Chapter 83 requires the Idaho State Police to establish and maintain the State of Idaho’s central sexual offender registry (ISOR).
On September 20, 2013, OpenCdA used the street address of Fernan Elementary School to query the ISOR for the number of RSOs in a one-mile radius of the School. Here is a screenshot of the resulting map. The School is the green icon in the center of the circle.
Mouse-clicking on any red icon on the ISOR website reveals the data behind that icon.
For easier reference, we have clearly labeled the red icon representing Port of Hope. According to the ISOR data behind this map on September 20, 2013, the Port of Hope is 0.245 miles (approximately 1,294 feet) from Fernan Elementary School (the green icon). The data also tells us that on September 20th, there were a total of 36 RSOs whose registration residence address was within a one mile radius of Fernan Elementary School. Of the 36 total RSOs within one mile of the School only two listed their address as Port of Hope.
The remainder of the red icons inside the green circle represent one or more RSOs residence addresses, but they are not in transitional housing at Port of Hope. Some may still be under community supervision by the Idaho Department of Correction, and some may simply be RSOs living without any community supervision.
Readers who watched the Port of Hope hearings on July 9th and August 13th heard the applicant’s sworn testimony (unrefuted by any evidence) describing the extensive and elaborate security and safety measures Port of Hope is required to meet to continue to be eligible for the Federal Bureau of Prisons contract. Those who watched the hearings heard the applicant’s sworn testimony (again, unrefuted by any evidence) that Port of Hope undergoes rigorous federal audits four times yearly to assure those standards continue to be met.
Deputy City Attorney/Acting City Planning Director Warren Wilson acknowledged the quality and superiority of the federally-imposed standards in the Planning & Zoning Commission hearing on September 10, 2013 (see streaming video beginning at approximately 00:33:07 and concluding at approximately 00:35:20). Indeed, as Wilson points out in his statements to the Planning Commission, the City relied on the federal rules and standards in preparing its guidance for the Planning Commission to follow in the September 10th meeting. Why? Because the State of Idaho Department of Correction has no similar stringent standards for housing probationers and parolees nearing release.
And again, according to ISOR data inspected by OpenCdA on September 20, 2013, here is a tabulation of RSOs within a one-mile radius of all the schools in Coeur d’Alene’s School District 271. (The data for Atlas Elementary School has not been online for several days, but on August 31st there were 7 RSOs residing within a one-mile radius of that school.)
Yet in spite of Port of Hope’s meeting or exceeding federally-imposed community health and safety standards, standards that far exceed anything the State of Idaho or City can even conceive, the Coeur d’Alene Planning & Zoning Commission seemed unusually intent on denying Port of Hope’s application for the Special Use Permit essential to allow it to bid competitively on a federal contract it has fulfilled for the past fifteen years.
Federal RRCs like the Port of Hope are not the problem; they come closer to being a solution the State and City should be requiring rather than trying to drive out of business.