November 16, 2005
Parents and neighbors worry a new drug and alcohol treatment facility across from Martinez Elementary may be dangerous. And you may not realize, one of these places may be just down the street from you. Crime Team 12 has more on why police say these areas should not be near children, and why you may never know which house near you is home to recovering addicts.
It’s a place where women can go to get a second change. Hope House Clinical Director Larry Mitchum helps women beat addiction. His success rate for graduates of his one-year program is ninety percent.
“We don’t just get them clean and sober, we get them back on the road of life,” Mitchum said,
Lieutenant Jimmy Young says that, in the last five years, Richmond County has only responded to a handful of minor crimes at treatment homes. They range from simple battery to theft.
“The biggest concern is who we’re gonna have in our neighborhood,” Young said.
One of his biggest worries is patients police describe as mentally incompetent.
“It’s probably not the kind of thing you would want right next door to a school playground,” Young said.
This is exactly why almost 400 concerned neighbors signed a petition against the new home across from Martinez Elementary. Worried neighbor John Murrell shared his concern at Tuesday night’s Columbia County commission meeting.
“That there’s some supervision on the part of the new business,” Murrell said.
Security is tight here at Hope House. The entire property is gated in, and someone is on guard round the clock to guard the property.
Zoning laws say any treatment house with more than six people needs to get permission from the county. But with fewer than six, they are considered a mixed residence, a home just like yours, maybe even your neighbor.
“Getting someone clean and sober, then sending them back into the same environment puts them at high risk,” Mitchum said.
He says treatment centers like his are necessary. You could be in bigger danger if they never get treated at all.
So do you live near one of these places? If it’s a non-profit or fewer than six live there, your county may not have a record that it exists. News 12 uncovered at least nine listings in Richmond County, two in Columbia County and three in Aiken County.