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New Agreement Provides Shelter For Recently Released Prisoners

Rotary Club of Bend

A new agreement between Deschutes County’s Criminal Justice Department and The Bethlehem Inn emergency shelter has designated additional beds for recently released prisoners. It’s the only shelter that serves men, women and families in Central Oregon.

Deschutes County’s Adult Parole and Probation division and the shelter made the agreement after seeing a gap in the housing market for released offenders. Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says the Bethlehem Inn has provided transitional housing to people who have completed their sentences. It’s now part of an early release program.

Wysling: “Giving them a safe place and where they know they can come home to every night, three meals a day and a get a fresh start, and we’ll give them that opportunity not to go back to a life that maybe got them in jail in the first place.”

Wysling says before inmates are selected for early release, they have to prove themselves by taking advantage of counseling or rehabilitation programs offered in prison. She says there is a rigorous selection process and residents undergo drug and alcohol screenings.

The housing facility has over 70 partners and receives volunteer support from its residents and community members.