Week in Review : MAJOR EVENTS, IMAGES AND PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY NEWS. : COUNTY : Local Opposition Blocks Prison Halfway House Near Knott’s
Orange County supervisors, who for years have been ducking brickbats from those who don’t want a new county jail anywhere near their home/business/school/church/city, could have warned the federal contractor what would happen.
Last week, Bannum Enterprises announced that it would use the Frontier Motel near Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park to house 20 to 40 federal prisoners for three-month terms as they prepared to return to society. The neighbors, Chamber of Commerce, City Council and local congressmen rose in protest.
A federal spokeswoman said that only minimum-security prisoners are sent to such halfway houses, people guilty of such crimes as tax evasion, mail fraud and bank embezzlement.
That would be little comfort when tourists and their wallets stayed away, said a spokesman for Knott’s. “The general public does not perhaps understand the difference between a halfway house and a federal prison,” he said.
The City Council fired off telegrams of protest, and U.S. Reps. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) and William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) arranged a meeting with federal prison authorities.
After the meeting, the federal Bureau of Prisons announced that no halfway house would be operated in the motel. “We understand there’s a lot of community opposition, and naturally so,” bureau director Norman A. Carlson said. “For whatever reason, they (the company making the proposal) didn’t understand what our policy is. There is no way we could operate a site under those conditions.”
A spokesman for Bannum said it might propose another site in Buena Park, the Melody Manor Motel, which is two miles from Knott’s. “We had told them (Bannum) that we’ll look at whatever they propose, and if it meets our requirements and their requirements, we might be able to accept it,” a bureau spokeswoman said.