Last month, at least 19 probationers and parolees were living in a 150-unit complex in Ogden, Ut., says the Salt Lake Tribune. Many, including a guard, have drug convictions; a few have committed gun-related or violent crimes. Building managers are reducing the number of state-supervised tenants, but there are still plenty of felons in the neighborhood. The state corrections department lists 713 probationers and parolees in the building’s ZIP code. A Tribune analysis found clustering in specific neighborhoods and even apartment buildings, despite rules prohibiting people on supervision from associating with one another. Law enforcement and scholars say offenders are more likely to succeed if they are dispersed, but a lack of halfway houses and city ordinances passed in recent years have limited where many offenders can live.
James Austin of the JFA Institute, which evaluates criminal justice practices for government agencies, said probationers and parolees can be bad influences on one another and housing laws might funnel them to places without jobs and treatment providers.”You’re better off to move them to other areas or at least split up the concentration,” he said. The state says 14 percent of probationers reoffend and 62 percent of parolees will return to prison within three years. While budget cuts have forced probation and parole agents to increase their caseloads, agency Director Brent Butcher points out his agents visit homes once a month and may require drug testing or other types of supervision.