Kansas City officials are welcoming a state decision to open a minimum-security prison near the city's downtown because it will replace a center for hundreds of men on probation or parole who have been released from prison but do not have a suitable place to live, the New York Times reports. The men are free to leave during the day to work, find a job or get treatment. Some residents and business leaders complain that many of the men simply roam the streets, cluster on corners and cause trouble.
“The image of having a prison in the neighborhood is not good, and sometimes the people who go to visit the prisoners are not the best element in the neighborhood,” said local businessman Bill Haw Sr. “It's not utopia yet. But it's an amazingly positive development compared to the work-release environment.” A looming question is what will happen to the 135 men now housed in the site. Several said that they had been told that if they did not come up with acceptable living arrangements on their own, they might be placed in a homeless shelter. Corrections officials are converting the release center, which has a capacity of 410, to a prison because of the state's increasing inmate population/ It is 1.5 percent since 2005 and currently 205 inmates over its limit.