Raid at Re-entry facility for inmates - WFLA News Channel 8

Raid at Re-entry facility for inmates

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Embassy Mobile Home Park Embassy Mobile Home Park
Largo Residential Re-entry Center, located on US 19 in Clearwater Largo Residential Re-entry Center, located on US 19 in Clearwater

When a second resident at a re-entry facility in Pinellas County was arrested for a violent crime, it started a series of questions about the building and the people who live there.

The facility is located on Frontage Road off US-19 in Clearwater.

Tonight, changes cold be on the works, and residents say not a moment too soon.

When a former resident at this work release center in Clearwater was arrested and charged with raping a teenager last week, it raised new concerns about the facility.

Del Robinson a resident at Embassy Mobile Home Park says, "We picketed this thing from the get go, not only this park, but we have to other park right besides us and they are just as concerned about it as we are."

Many residents who live right behind the facility, that's run by Goodwill thru a contract with the Department of Corrections, opposed its presence in their neighborhood.

James Westerlund a mobile home park resident said, "We expressed our concerns. We didn't want it in the neighborhood we said why should there be a residential home for 300 still prisoners living in a residence area that didn't fit the profile of the neighborhood."

But the facility that serves as a work release center for inmates assimilating back into society, is now under the department of corrections spotlight.

It follows a raid earlier this week that saw 12 inmates removed and contraband recovered.

Ann Howard with the Florida Department of Corrections said, "To ensure public safety, the department has executed an unannounced security audit as well as a canine search of the Largo facility if is discovered during this review that changes need to be made, the department is going to implement those changes immediately."

Those possible changes include repositioning surveillance cameras, building a higher fence and adding extra lighting following the second arrest of a former resident.

Ron Russell, a resident of the Embassy mobile home park said, "It is just a shame it takes something like this to make things happens."

The people who live in the Embassy mobile home park next to the re-entry facility say they have been pushing for changes for quite some time and now they are hopeful those changes are going to take place."

Its not that residents oppose the concept of the facility.

James Westerlund says, "Most of the guys up there did some something wrong now they are paying their debt society but there is always a couple of apples that spoil the whole thing."

And now the people who are neighbors just want to see steps taken to make sure the facility is more secure in the future.

The residents plan to meet next month with officials the Department of Corrections to discuss changes at the facility.

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