Pushing Parolees out of Public Housing

After a twelve year old boy was shot and killed on the Northside, Mayor Ben Walsh and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that state troopers would start patrolling Syracuse’s streets alongside city police officers. That surge in law enforcement is supposed to make the City safer, but it’s going to restrict people’s access to housing, perpetuating the long-term problems that cause this violence in the first place.

The state troopers are going to focus their attention on parolees living in Syracuse:

“As part of the Syracuse crackdown, the state Department of Correction and Community supervision will monitor parolees in Syracuse for recent gang involvement, restrict the access of parolees to high-crime areas, and conduct unannounced home visits and curfew checks.”

The idea is that repeat offenders are to blame for all this violence, and if you keep those people away from each other, then there will be less crime.

Those restrictions on parolees work against the State’s other efforts to reduce crime in the City. In 2017, New York State picked Syracuse to pilot a program placing parolees in public housing. Access to housing reduces recidivism and makes communities safer, so it was a good idea for the Syracuse Housing Authority to open its doors to the formerly incarcerated.

But in Syracuse, a lot of public housing is in neighborhoods that could be described as “high-crime areas”

 

If the State is going keep parolees out of “high-crime areas,” then it’s also going to have to keep those same people out of public housing, eliminating its own reentry program.

Syracuse is too violent. That’s an obvious problem, and it’s tempting to think that there’s an equally obvious solution. The Mayor and the Governor have given into that temptation, sending in troops to stop the violence by force. But cities are more complicated than that. By restricting the freedom of people who have served time, the Mayor and the Governor are torpedoing another government program that could have made Syracuse safer in the long term.

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