Wednesday, September 15, 2010
How Sex Offenders End Up In Your Community - Hennepin County Corrections
Hennepin County Corrections Supervisor Russ Stricker speaks about how sex offenders are ending up in North Minneapolis. Most of his talk is some of the snoozy, red tape bureaucratic details that basically boil down to a summary of "a sex offender ends up in your community because he asked to live there, because he found a landlord willing to rent to him".
Around minute 3:15 Russ begins to speak about how sex offenders submit for approval where it is they want to live. Then, the intense supervised release agent (ISR agent) checks out the residence for approval. It sounds to me like it's up to the sex offender to find residence on his own and it also sounds like there is very little grounds for denying and very little occurrence that residences are denied by the corrections department. Furthermore, it sounds like when a denial is made, mostly for the lack of a support system in the area the offender is requesting to live, the corrections department is not always confident that the denial will stick instead of being reversed by some appeal process.
Russ Stricker speaks about landlords who are willing to rent to sex offenders. To me this seems to be the key factor in determining where sex offenders will ultimately reside. I think that speaks volumes about the broken "sex offender placement" function (if there is such a thing) of the corrections system when we have absentee landlords who are a bigger factor in shaping this crucial component than the highly educated and regulated systems of the state and county corrections departments.
(And now for my editorial rant)
I don't think anyone can argue that the concentration of sex offenders in a small area of Minneapolis contributes to the dysfunction of that community, which in turn contributes to undesirable livability factors that keep decent families away which in turn contributes to (or enables) more dysfunction like violent crime, drugs, gangs, prostitution, blight, low property values, low civic engagement, poor schools, stressed and overworked public services like emergency responders which in turn contributes more to the unattractive livability conditions which in turn make it easier for absentee landlords to buy cheap, run down houses and rent to criminals and sex offenders.
It's all a vicious cycle that needs to be chipped away from all angles.
Why are we, voters and legislators and community leaders, letting slumlords dictate where sex offenders will live? Why are we letting them contribute to the burdens that our community carries on behalf of the rest of the county or metro area. What if sex offenders were returned to the zip code in which they committed their crime? Perhaps not the exact sex offender for sake of distance from victims, but what if Zip Code A traded their sex offender with Zip Code B, that way both zip codes keep the same number of sex offenders they were "assigned by destiny"?
(end rant, for now)
Russ was part of the panel of people asked to speak about the topic of sex offenders in north Minneapolis at the August 30 Dessert with Don community forum, sponsored by 5th Ward Councilman Don Samuels each month on the last Monday at 6pm, held at the UROC on Plymouth Ave, right next to the 4th precinct police station. Call the 5th Ward office at 612-673-2205 if you'd like more info about future forums or to recommend a topic for Dessert with Don.
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