Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I Call Him One Disingenuous Prayerful Council Member

To find suburban neighbors who would tolerate a Christian halfway house for prisoners, CM Robert Duvall (who last council meeting co-sponsored a Day of Prayer resolution on behalf of fundamentalists) had to move it to a neighborhood where the suburbanites have no choice but to accept whatever zoning measures come down to them: Cockrill Bend near the state prison.

CM Duvall seemed to twist and coil insisting to the City Paper this morning that the suburbanites who almost unanimously rejected the placement of Men of Valor's seminary in their far southeast Davidson community did not reject the mission of MoV itself. But that seems to me to be a disingenuous response. Does any community NIMBY about a prison halfway house ever really reject the idea of rehabilitating prisoners? CM Duvall says he never heard a single resident say a bad thing about MoV, but last March the Tennessean said it did:
"There is no benefit," said Mike Marietta, who lives with his wife and a 2-year-old child less than a mile from the proposed development.

"I moved out of the city to get away from the drug users and pushers, and now they're bringing them here. They'll be released to our community, and if they decide they want to participate in the program, everything is great, but what about the ones that don't?"
Maybe Mike Marietta's mythic indictment of the city as the exclusive domain of crime was a little more scathing than his indictment of MoV's ability to retain ex-cons, but not much (and I would be interested to see where City Reporter Nate Rau gleaned those MoV recidivism stats; are religious non-profits required to report recidivism numbers? Does the state mandate honest accounting of MoV's backsliders, or are the numbers simply a fudged marketing tool that MoV uses to sell itself?). For his part, Duvall the Devout seems to be rewriting history.

In the end, the wealthy suburban churches in Brentwood and around Franklin Pike (which hold MoV fundraisers) buy off prison ministries to stay out of their neighborhoods, and now the more modest Antioch community that had the seminary sloughed off on it was able to force CM Duvall to exile the ministry to the penitentiary exurbs of the Cockrill Bend archipelago. So, suburban NIMBY wins again but this time without forcing the urban core to shoulder yet another halfway house that nobody else wants.

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