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On MULTIPLE occasions WEEKS ago, I reported on Rightway Ministries. NOW THIS!

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FROM THE NEWS HERALD IN PANAMA CITY

2018-05-11 04_28_55-Troubles mount for Right Way.png

 

Officials agencies are distancing themselves and a police investigation has been confirmed.

PANAMA CITY — Official agencies are distancing themselves from Right Way Ministries after the halfway house came under fire last month for code enforcement violations, causing other concerns to rise to the surface.

In April, the facility at 2909 E. 11th St. was deemed “unfit, unsafe,” which caused many of the residents to make other arrangements and complicated the parole of four who were court ordered there.

While the code enforcement violations have since been rectified, the event led to the Florida Department of Corrections saying offenders under their supervision are “no longer” being sent to the organization. DOC spokesman Patrick Manderfield added the placement was at the “direction of the court” and that the department had “no part” in determining offender placements.

Court Administrator Robyn Gable said the courts do not use Right Way as a referral and do not have any agreements to sever. Based on interviews, the process used to court-order people to Right Way is unclear, but seems to be mostly based on people requesting judges place them there.

It was also discovered the Bay County Sheriff’s Office has an active investigation into the facility, based on “complaints,” spokeswoman Ruth Corley said.

Director and founder of Right Way Pastor Robert Flores said he is aware his future with the courts if “up in the air,” but that the complaints are made unfounded and he is “helping people. However, half a dozen people spoke to The News Herald with complaints about Right Way, where they say the problems run much deeper than the issues with the building.

“We were taken advantage of. He built a nice, pretty picture,” said Lina Dauphin, who had her 27-year-old son court ordered into the program last year. “But he (Flores) wasn’t helping any child in that program. ... He’s not running that place properly. He’s taking advantage of families.”

Dauphin and others say people from Right Way approached them when either themselves or a loved one was about to be sent to jail on drug offenses, offering Right Way — which says it charges residents between $1,800 a month to $0, depending on need — as an alternative. Before the code enforcement violation, the facility housed around 30 people, according to Flores.

“It was kind of a last hope,” Dauphin said. “We heard some negativity but we asked the courts to put him there. ... no one wants to send their kid to jail.”

It was, she said, the wrong choice.

Kim Ovington, who’s brother attended Right Way, told a similar story about her mother being approached at court, and said her family regretted the choice. A former attendee of Right Way, who asked to remain anonymous, talked about being approached at jail.

All three as well as others interviewed said the program was not what was expected.

Problems people reported ranged from issues with the curriculum, which some said was non-existent, to accusations of medications being improperly stored and administered. Some said program attendees weren’t monitored adequately so they continued to use.

Many took issue with the price tag of the program, which covers food and board. Another frequent complaint was that Flores is not certified as an licensed addiction counselor.

The courts should “absolutely not” continue to sentence people to Right Way, said one former attendee who asked to remain anonymous. He said the program did help him “some,” but the issues in leadership are “scary.”

“It’s a shame they use Christianity and hide behind the bible,” he said.

Flores was adamant that the complaints were unfounded, and merely a reflection of unrealistic expectations or retaliation for people being asked to leave the program.

He said the money covers his costs, and none of it is pocketed, and that there is no drug use or improperly administered medications. An extensive set of cameras as well as staff monitor the property.

“The police can bring in dogs,” he said. “They can some in and drug test our students. The proof is in the pudding.”

He is not a licensed counselor, but he is not required to be under any laws. As a “reformed” addict, he feels that is more than adequate experience for his line of work. As a religious ministry, the facility also does not have to be licensed nor does the non-profit pay taxes.

Flores also was careful to say they are not a “treatment center” but a “residential program for men with life controlling substance abuse issues.”

He said even with the complaints, he stands by his work.

“They don’t see all the good that has come out of it,” Flores said. “I have no regrets. None.”

In the meantime, some program attendees, such as Kurt Franzinger, are stuck waiting to see what will happen. Franzinger was court ordered to Right Way, and won’t know how to move forward until after a court date later this month.

“It’s been real stressful,” he said. “You pick up your rucksack, get on your chopper and go.”

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Guest Concerned citizen

Smells a lot like the Panama City Rescue Mission. Shady,  shady. Also,  these programs aren't required to have their kitchens be inspected by the health department. Barf. 

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