- Associated Press - Thursday, June 29, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota pastor wants to open a halfway house for women leaving the state Women’s Prison, but he’s facing opposition in the residential neighborhood.

Resident Jessicca Bardeson knocked on doors in her Pierre neighborhood on Wednesday, seeking signatures on a petition to stop the Rev. Jack Benjamin’s plan, the Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/2u258bi ) reported.

Benjamin announced plans to build the halfway house next to United Pentecostal Church a year ago. But the house he purchased last month to temporarily use as the halfway house is across town from the church - and next door to Bardeson’s home.

Benjamin said the recently purchased home will be temporary housing for the women. He plans to raise $300,000 to build a facility next to his church.

Bardeson said she doesn’t support the halfway house because it would devalue her property.

“It’s inappropriate for this neighborhood, where we have kids and a park right across the street,” she said, adding she was concerned about what would happen if a woman at the halfway house were to become involved in illegal activity, such as drug use.

Benjamin said he understands Bardeson’s concerns.

“The reality is, the young ladies are being released from prison into Pierre and they are all over. They could even be in the apartment building across the street, and she wouldn’t know it,” Benjamin said. “They could be in rental houses up and down the street. These issues she obviously has a concern for. But they are coming into the community one way or another.”

Utilities Director Brad Palmer said that Benjamin’s plans fits with city ordinances.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com

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