The student was kind enough to write me a summary of his research. His "summary" references the work being done on this blog and then dives into the Level Three sex offender issue. There are a lot of great points to the report, but to summarize: these sick deviants are clustering in North Minneapolis because organized neighborhoods with more political capital manage to keep them out, and their clustering in a "socially disorganized" neighborhood makes it more likely they will reoffend.
Of course, "reoffend" means to harm individuals in our neighborhood, most likely women and children.
Here is a written summary by the author, as follows...
Social Disorganization and Level III Sex Offenders
Picking up on a personal and professional research topic of interest, I ran across this fantastic forum of community expression. In the time it took for me to take a trip (let’s call it a US Gov’t-paid work-study) to Iraq, Johnny Northside and cohorts have built the media wing of North Minneapolis, as evidenced by RT Ryback’s emphatic recent gesture to the Hawthorne Hawkman.
This is fantastic, as the blog routinely hits on some of the exact issues I have worked on promoting through academic research. I had to offer what I had done to JNS- so here it is. Much of the content of this blog hits on EXACTLY what academic research indicates is needed in building a stronger and more effective community, and I think the similarities will be obvious.
Where I am coming from: I am a geographer, (if you quiz me on capitals, I will refer you to Google) interested in people and how they act (or are forced to act) across space. I realize this makes me sound like a Trekkie or worse, but I hope the point is clear, things happen for reasons, and one of the most important reasons can be called ‘place.’ Place is determined by the physical and social characteristics of an area, but also its connections and interactions with other ‘places.’ Studying sex offenders presents a great opportunity to understand a community and a region. Unfortunately, looking at this topic shows that ‘Minnesota Nice,’ good judgment and common sense are completely absent in how we (as a state) deal with the most notorious of offenders.
I focused my research on what is called social disorganization theory, because it seems to explain, fairly neatly and understandably, why some neighborhoods struggle more than others, and why social issues seem to become exponentially challenging to address. The findings are unfortunate, to say the least. The term slum-lord could not be more accurate in cynically describing the connections between communities that have a sex offender problem, and those in the suburbs that think they have a problem. As a suburb and exurb dweller, I have (without really being aware of it) enjoyed the benefits of not having to deal with concentrated levels of rehabilitating (theoretically) sex offenders in the communities I have been a part of. Sex offenders don’t just come from the city, they come from across the state and, through push and pull factors, are ending up concentrated in Minneapolis.
Conservative-minded folk will sometimes complain about ‘social engineering,’ however, the current status of offender community rehabilitation is similar to the law of the jungle, resulting in the bastard-child inverse of social engineering- a sort of runaway free-market of social irresponsibility. Sex offender corrections is left largely up to the county-based community corrections structure (there are 3 systems across the state, but I won’t bore with the details). Suffice it to say sex offender management has been de-regulated (not that it ever was ‘regulated’ by any state or federal body). This works out great for the 99% of MN ‘hoods that can deal with offenders one at a time, in rare doses and with their full attention/resources, but… this is not working for the 1% of ‘hoods that are being deluged and blasted daily by not only sex offender management issues, but a wider array of socio-economic and structural challenges (that’s you, NoMi).
While the suburban and rural leaders are perpetuating an urban offender dumping ground by their failure to accept responsibility for a proportional share of the states offenders (granted- I may be suggesting level III sex offenders don’t deserve a full set of civil rights…), the more liberal-bent practitioners of mental health and sex offender treatment have been aligning with the often manipulative offenders. Working in the MN sex industry (by that I mean the MN Sex Offender Program), and in other research settings, I have come across behavioral and mental health practitioners who are convinced beyond a doubt that the average person is just a ‘bad choice’ away from being labeled (and draconically stigmatized) as a sex offender- a deviant. I seem to disagree with that point when dealing with those who have been clinically diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders; not to further push the offenders into a caste of untouchables, but… umm… That is what the majority of average citizens seem to think, and I don’t blame them- I have the impulse to think that way too, I can be honest. How does that saying go? In America, we judge you not on what your father did, but what you do…
Be it suburban politicians or sex offender practitioners, no one is being completely honest with the issue. Politicians will ride the magic carpet of fear mongering and popular over-dramatization of offenders (not every offender is as lost as Pete Rickmeyer), while totally ignoring what is occurring because of their actions and inactions. The practitioners don’t always seem to appreciate the other variables at play in a community setting, or realize that the majority of the populace really detests offenders, for no real reason than the abhorrent nature of their crime. And the great unwashed don’t want to fund a utopian treatment mechanism for them while, for example, working mothers struggle to meet their health-care needs, or the Vikings continues on without a new stadium. Just saying, the majority of folks don’t really want to invest heavily in people who have committed what our society sees as, the most despicable acts possible- potentially worse than what even BP is capable of.
The research I did persuaded me that the social disorganization approach is the best shot at explaining the problem and putting forth what can be done. What needs to happen is a complete systematic overhaul that takes a responsible state-wide approach to sex offender management. However, since I am a realist, what the research suggests for North Minneapolis is this- do what the suburbs do and freak out when an offender gets dropped into your locale. Go to the meetings, talk to your neighbors, be ‘that guy/girl’ and rally against the slumlord or property owner that refuses to fix their broken windows. Get the neighbors to join you as an ‘able guardian’ of the neighborhood. I am not advocating vigilantism, just stern looks and an example to follow. Do what JNS does; recruit your able friends and colleagues into ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’ in the neighborhood. Those are the things that can help to mediate treatment of your neighborhood as a doormat. The police have the formal control over the neighborhoods (at times it seems- based on KSTP, of course), but the real key is in the ‘informal control’ that residents need to pursue to take back their community which may allow the political process to mature. Community Corrections doesn’t hold offender notification meetings in NoMi often because they say no one shows. The ball is in the resident’s hands, the alternative is the status quo worsening.
While some of the takes on offenders that are propagated on this site are somewhat alarmist and born of frustration, no doubt- they are little more than accurate reflections of what everyone across the state is thinking. If the community is to prosper, there is no sense in not competing in the jungle-esque mess our failed sex offender management system has created. There is a lot of untapped talent and perspective in NoMi that might be able to apply their creative energies to getting support for political change. Until then, Organize! We in the suburbs are and it has been working nicely.
The slideshow is a shotgun approach to this topic and some of the research completed. I will attempt to answer any questions the audience may have, via email or comments. Thanks for allowing me to share and rant. I realize as an outsider I have limitations on my perspective- take it for what it is worth.