WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote to the Federal Bureau of Prisons today regarding the proposed placement of a facility in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) recently received a proposal from Firetree, Ltd. to construct a residential federal offender re-entry center in Over-the-Rhine, just blocks from Cincinnati’s new School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). In a letter to Director Harley G. Lappin, Brown urged the Department to consider community perspectives regarding the location of the center.
“The residents, businesspeople, and public servants of Over-the Rhine have struggled through many long years of decline. Yet, the people have rallied around one another and are now beginning to reap the rewards of their determination,” Brown said in his letter to Lappin. “They care deeply about their neighborhood and are a valuable resource on its behalf. I strongly believe the FBP should refrain from any action unless and until the concerns raised by the residents of Over-the-Rhine are resolved.”
The full text of Brown’s letter follows.
February 4, 2010
Harley G. Lappin
Federal Bureau of Prisons
U.S. Department of Justice
320 First Street, NW, Room 642
Washington, DC 20534
Dear Director Lappin:
It has come to my attention that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) has received a proposal from a Pennsylvania company, Firetree, Ltd., to construct a residential federal offender re-entry center in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood just blocks from Cincinnati’s new School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). The local community has voiced serious concerns about this proposal. I ask that you work with the community to address these concerns before taking any action on this proposal.
The residents feel that the current concentration of social services entities already located in the Over-the Rhine neighborhood should be taken into account before another such entity is located there. They have been expected to and have embraced these entities, but do not understand why this particular neighborhood is under consideration rather than the many areas that do not house such entities.
Looking back at the history of Over-the-Rhine one finds that the area has been plagued with crime and has suffered from loss of residents and jobs with a declining economy. Despite the area’s history, there is cause for hope. According to recent media reports, there has been $90 million in new investment in commercial development in Over-the-Rhine as a result of efforts by the Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation (3CDC). The seeds planted by 3CDC have begun to reap a tremendous harvest called the Gateway Quarter, an up and coming area featuring 200 market rate condominiums, new businesses and office space. City residents ask that no action be taken that compromises the hard-fought, and still fragile, economic revitalization of this area.
The community has also shared their concerns about locating the re-entry center within blocks of a school teaching primary, middle school, and high school-age students. The SCPA, established in 1973 as one of five magnet schools in Cincinnati, provides students of all backgrounds with an excellent academic and artistic education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields. It has been recognized as the leading pre-professional arts and college prep institution in the United States. City residents believe that placing a prisoner re-entry center near this school is ill-conceived and unnecessary.
I understand that the Cincinnati Police Department has spoken out against locating the re-entry center in Over-the-Rhine by sending a letter on December 7, 2009 to the FBP stating that “civic organizations, business partners and concerned citizens” have “overwhelmingly objected” to building a re-entry center in Over-the-Rhine.
The residents, businesspeople, and public servants of Over-the Rhine have struggled through many long years of decline. Yet, the people have rallied around one another and are now beginning to reap the rewards of their determination. They care deeply about their neighborhood and are a valuable resource on its behalf. I strongly believe the FBP should refrain from any action unless and until the concerns raised by the residents of Over-the-Rhine are resolved. I would be glad to discuss this situation further or answer any questions you may have.
United States Senator