Ozark Work Release Program Controversy

There is controversy surrounding the proposed location of a work release program for ex-cons in downtown Ozark.

A house, which was selected by Dale County's Community Corrections Board, to be used for a work-release program for former jail inmates, will remain on sale for the time being.

"We do not want to see them locate in that area, and whatever we can do to assist them, we will do that," said Winston T. Jackson of Ozark City Council Member.

Like Ozark City Councilman, Winston Jackson, some people say the home would threaten efforts to revitalize Ozarks downtown district.

"I think that you're going to have trouble having people invest in the downtown area," said Lori Blankenship, a concerned resident.

The neighborhood where the home is located is also a concern, and some do not think it would be the right place for repeat offenders trying to stay out of jail.

Police Chief Tony Spivey says, "There's still a lot of drug activity going on in that area, and to put this facility in that area, we're setting them up for failure with the temptation of being there."

"They're going to be going through counseling, and it's going to be a very intense time. They don't need to be able to go outside and take four or five steps to purchase alcohol and drugs," said Leslie Reeder, a concerned resident.

In response to the controversy, the community corrections board has decided to postpone the purchase of the property for another week.

Board members say they will allow that time for the city of Ozark to come up with another location that will fall within their budget, and allow them to meet their September 30th deadline.

September 30th is also the deadline for purchasing a house and moving all the inmates.

If no new location is found, the board's chairperson says it will close on the current property, some time next week.

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