PHOENIX — A facility that helps felons get back on their feet after release is drawing the ire of residents in a north Phoenix neighborhood.

The Arizona Department of Corrections “re-entry center” began operations in mid-July and parents in the area say they received little notice, reported The Arizona Republic (

Department spokesman Andrew Wilder says the agency held a public hearing in May and informed a nearby school district.

“The department has been forthcoming and transparent in the process,” Wilder said. “The re-entry center was proposed in the governor’s State of the State address, and the department on several occasions testified during the (legislative) session.”

He said a public hearing was not required.

Deer Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Monica Allread says the board learned of the hearing ahead of time but nobody at the district office knew of the re-entry center until mid-August.

“It really seems this project was hidden from the public,” said Julie Read, who has led a group opposed to the facility. “No one up here knew about it.”

Read said the department declined her request to hold another hearing.

“They don’t want to get yelled at and have backlash,” Read said. “I don’t have a problem with the program. I have a problem with the location. . I want to hear why they didn’t choose other locations.”

Felons are sent there if they committed a technical violation after serving 85 percent of their sentence.

Corrections officials say the re-entry center will save money and slow a rise in Arizona’s prison population.

Information from: The Arizona Republic,

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