New Site Needed for Kalispell Prerelease Center

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A new site is needed for a proposed prerelease center in Kalispell after nearly three-quarters of nearby property owners surveyed objected to the site on the southern edge of the city.

The Department of Corrections is prohibited from proceeding with the development of a center at a specific location if public opposition is strong.

“It’s unfortunate the public rejected the proposed site, but we respect their decision,” said Kelly Speer, the department’s Facilities Program Bureau chief. “The department remains committed to developing a prerelease center in Kalispell to serve the only major population center in the state without such a program.”

Community, Counseling and Correctional Services in Butte has a state contract to run the prerelease center.

Speer said the next step is to meet with a local working committee.

“We would have to decide if the current contractor, CCCS, would find a new site or a new building, or if we put that out to bid again,” Speer said.

The 2007 Legislature authorized adding a prerelease center in northwestern Montana. Prerelease centers help offenders as they transition from prison to communities.

About 800 offenders are in prerelease centers in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula.

Flathead County has 1,300 offenders in the Department of Corrections system, the fourth largest number among counties. In the past seven years, nearly 900 offenders from the county have spent time in prerelease centers.

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