Following a contentious public hearing, the Sacramento County Planning Commission postponed a decision Monday on whether to allow a federal halfway house in one of the area's most troubled neighborhoods.
The panel asked for more information from Behavioral Systems Southwest, which wants to transform a rundown apartment complex in south Sacramento into a residential halfway house for parolees with criminal backgrounds ranging from bank robbery to drug trafficking.
Commissioners want to know whether the company, which will provide social services to 50 inmates following their release from federal prison, conducted a proper assessment of the effect of its planned "residential re-entry center" on the west Lemon Hill neighborhood where it would be located.
The federal government would pay the company to provide counseling, job training and other services to parolees at the proposed center, targeted for Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 43rd Avenue.
The neighborhood has one of the area's highest rates of gun crimes, and is plagued by gang activity, drug dealing and other problems.
At Monday night's public hearing, more than two dozen people addressed the commission, most of them arguing that the proposed center would be a bad fit for an already troubled neighborhood. Some said the location of the facility and its large criminal element would set up parolees for failure.
Company representatives and several other commenters said federal release centers play a vital role in helping inmates succeed on the outside by teaching them skills such as job preparedness, proper parenting and anger management.
The Planning Commission is scheduled to take up the matter again on Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the county administration building, 700 H St.