Georgia Voices: State plays city for patsy on inmates
by The Savannah Morning News
July 22, 2014 12:00 AM | 1030 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local law enforcement officials have long complained privately that the state of Georgia uses Savannah as a dumping ground for a disproportionate share of inmates being released from the state’s prison system.

Savannah has enough home-grown lawbreakers who keep the cops busy. It doesn’t need an abundance of imports.

The issue of felons who are released back into society locally has taken on additional seriousness, thanks to the city’s ongoing efforts to remove some of the homeless camps off President Street Extension just east of downtown.

Police will forcibly remove people. But that doesn’t mean those who are displaced will vanish. They must live somewhere. Since felons have criminal records, they have trouble finding jobs and places to live. So a homeless camp becomes the housing of last resort.

The state’s prison system offers transitional centers and programs to help inmates who have paid their debts to society lead productive lives after they are released. But some don’t. Or can’t. So they return to the only thing they know: Crime.

That’s what upsets many police chiefs and others responsible for public safety.

This community has developed a relatively comprehensive safety net for citizens who need help. Many other Georgia communities lack what Savannah offers.

Unfortunately, these social programs and community-based agencies can serve as a magnet for those who have no prior connection to Savannah — yet who still need to live somewhere. Too often, Savannah is the destination city.

The city is clearing out some of the homeless camps as part of a much-needed drainage improvement project east of downtown. No one is picking on the homeless. The city has no choice.

The state, however, would seem to have plenty of choices when it comes to discharging inmates in various locations across Georgia.

Savannah is rightly known for its warm hospitality. But when it comes to felons, the state shouldn’t play us for patsies.

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