Sex offender rehab center concerns residents

Sunday, April 20th 2008, 11:07 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

SHAWNEE, Okla. -- A new rehabilitation center for sex offenders has some Shawnee residents concerned about its proximity to school children.

The center will open soon in a residential area of Shawnee and neighbors said they don't think it's safe.

 "I cried for two days when I found out and I knew I couldn't live like that," Joanne Jones said. "But I couldn't live with myself knowing that I didn't get the word out either."

As a victim of a sex crime, Jones said she's doing everything she can to stop the center from opening in her neighborhood where a school, park and church are right down the road.

Jones is going door-to-door to get her neighbors to sign a petition against the center.

"It just makes my heart just bleed to think that what they're doing to this neighborhood, how much danger they're putting everyone in," she said.

Stacey Russell is a mother of eight children and said she's also worried for their safety.

"These people obviously need some type of counseling or help, and I'm not opposed to that," Russell said. "But I'm opposed to the idea where it's in a residential area, where it affects small children and elderly and our homes."

City Manager James Collard said he'd prefer for the facility to be in an industrial zone, but there's nothing city leaders can do to keep it from opening.

"Right now, they are in compliance with all the applicable rules," Collard said.

State law requires the facility to be 300 feet away from churches and schools. In this case, they're not breaking any law.

Attempts to contact the person responsible for opening the center were unsuccessful. Jones said she and several neighbors plan to voice their concerns at a City Commission meeting. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.