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Letter: Don’t let red tape sink Foley proposal

A March 27, 2013 photo of the John

A March 27, 2013 photo of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility which, according to Suffolk public works officials, would need $146-million to be remade into jail space. Credit: James Carbone

We need more than just a study, we need an action plan for reusing the closed John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility .

The proposal by Suffolk County Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) is visionary and should not get lost in the bureaucracy of dead-end politics.

District Attorney Thomas Spota and Sheriff Vincent DeMarco have already demonstrated willingness to look at and act on alternative sentences for those involved with drug- and alcohol-related crimes. We don’t need another jail at the cost of $100 million, and the Foley facility is next door to the Yaphank jail.

Many of the young people occupying our jail cells are repeat offenders due to their serious drug and alcohol addictions. They need treatment, not incarceration — especially those suffering from opiate addictions. The Foley building should be used for this. It could also house people jailed for driving while intoxicated, and provide life skills and job training.

This proposal could be a pilot program, and therefore could be exempt from all the nonsense that politicians use to block positive life-giving initiatives that could make a real difference.

The Rev. Francis Pizzarelli, Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is the founder of Hope House Ministries, which helps homeless teens and young adults.