Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here Is MN Department Of Corrections Reply To Hennepin County's "Shot Across The Bow" Letter On Level Three Sex Offender Concentration, Which Can Be Summarized Thusly: Go Jump In A Lake...

Creative stock photo, youth in Florida jump into alligator-infested water,
blog post by John Hoff

I wrote previously about the "shot across the bow" letter written by the chair of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, click here. The letter was on the subject of outrageous Level Three sex offender concentration in Hennepin County, particularly North Minneapolis, particularly certain BLOCKS of North Minneapolis which have more L3SOs than, for example, three Minnesota counties put together.

Well, it turns out there was a reply to the letter on June 12, 2013. A copy was provided to me by Linda Higgins at the recent community town hall on sex offender concentration, which has received extensive media coverage, click here.  The letter, which is carefully and politely worded, could be summarized as follows:

The Minnesota Department of Corrections isn't doing anything wrong by stacking perverts in North Minneapolis as thick as cordwood. Decorum requires me to respond politely to your letter but you know and I know you can go jump in a lake. Go ahead and sue me. It's not like we don't have plenty of lawyers, some of which obviously drafted this letter and cited a whole bunch of case law and studies to impress you and make you think we can get away with this outrage, which history shows we continue to get away with. 

Here is the wording of the letter. Judge for yourself...

Minnesota Department of Corrections
Office of the Commissioner
1450 Energy Park Drive Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55108

June 12, 2013

Commissioner Mike Opat, Chair
Hennepin County Board
A2400 Government Center
300 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55487-0241

Dear Commissioner Opat,
Thank you for your letter of May 20 expressing concerns regarding housing for Level 3 sex offenders. The Department of Corrections (DOC), together with our Community Corrections partners, has struggled with this issue for several years. The DOC works together with the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation (HCDCCR) in the supervision of these offenders within Hennepin County. Given HCDCCR’s responsibility for that supervision, your interest and partnership in the issue is both pertinent and welcomed.

Three factors play a significant role in any offender housing decision: 1) Minnesota Statute, 2) Promulgated Rules and 3) recent Court decisions. First, Minnesota Statute, 244.052 Subd. 4a requires that “the agency responsible for the offender’s supervision shall take into consideration the proximity of the offender’s residency to that of other level 3 offenders…” A second consideration is the requirement in Promulgated Rule 2940, which requires the DOC to involve the offender in the preparation of a release plan in the best interest of offender transition and public safety.

Finally, there is the impact of recent court decisions following habeas corpus actions against the Commissioner of Corrections brought by multiple homeless Level 3 offenders. The Minnesota Court of Appeals has directed that the department must develop a release plan that can achieve an offender’s release from prison and housing in a suitable and approved residence. The following cases reviewed this issue:

State ex rel. Marlowe v. Fabian, 755 N.W. 2d 792, 796 (Minn. Ct. App. 2008) (the DOC must seek to develop a plan that can achieve release from prison and placement in a suitable and approved residence, whether in the county of commitment or in the neighboring county).

State ex rel. Bottomley v. Fabian, 2010 WL 2363882 (Minn. Ct. App. June 15, 2010) review denied (Minn. Aug. 24, 2010)

State ex rel. Aguilera v. Fabian, 2010 WL 18513349 (Minn. Ct. App. May 11, 2010)

Truelson v. Fabian, 2008 WL 933543 at 3 (Minn. Ct. App. Apr. 8, 2008)

State ex rel. Johnson v. Fabian, 2005 WL 704302 (Minn. Ct. App. Mar. 29, 2005)

(JNS blog says: You're right. The only way to settle this is in court) 

An offender has the right to live in any private residence within any county of Minnesota subject to a correction agent’s approval of that residence. In Hennepin County, this approval rests with the HCDCCR agents and takes into consideration such things as the residence being habitable with adequate electrical, plumbing and heating utilities; residence is absent obstacles that would impede supervision and positive adjustment, etc. The DOC is responsible for the review and final approval of release plans that have been approved by the HCDCCR agent. DOC relies upon the agent’s determination that the proposed release plan meets the standards of good practice and the residence is the most suitable and feasible available in the locale.

Consequently, the DOC does not “place” any offender including Level 3 sex offenders in any private residence. Rather, offenders select a private residence (frequently with assistance from their corrections agent) where they have an opportunity to live due to the permission of the occupants who can be family, friends or an individual offering a room or residence for rent with full knowledge of their criminal history and sex offender status.

(JNS blog says: You give the offenders a list of landlords and they pretty much choose from that list, so if you're not "placing" you're doing everything BUT placing. And, by the way, we want the list. Though we are compiling our own list of landlords who need to be sued. Does the name "Anthony Zucker" ring a bell?) 

The DOC has implemented policies regarding these cases, which promote approving residence locations within the county where the current offense was committed, or where the offender has a significant history of residence, employment and community support. The DOC does not encourage counties to send their offenders to Hennepin County where entrepreneurial landlords are looking for tenants regardless of their criminal offense. In fact, the DOC has policies prohibiting such actions.
DOC has also worked diligently to develop housing options for those offenders who have insufficient resources. For many years the DOC has engaged in ongoing daily efforts to establish viable safe housing options for offenders in need in greater Minnesota where offenders are under the supervision of DOC agents. These efforts are designed to address the issues of concentration and public safety. Some examples that may be applicable for consideration in Hennepin County include:

2001: DOC report Safe Homes, Safe Communities. This report was the outcome of DOC-initiated meetings with multiple stakeholders. It resulted in the establishment of a multi-agency work group.

2003: The work-group demonstrated cost effectiveness of community based housing and made recommendations which resulted in additional funding (approx. $1.3 million per year) beginning in FY 

2004 for offender housing. This funding is directed towards: halfway houses, contract housing and emergency housing.

2010: Created a temporary staff position to focus on creating housing options in DOC jurisdictions.
DOC has found landlords in greater Minnesota who are willing to enter into a lease contract for DOC housing. This DOC leased housing is used as transitional housing for Level 2 and 3 offenders. There are approximately 17 scattered sites across the state. ISR agents provide intense supervision at each of these sites. These sites were established specifically to keep offenders who are committed from greater Minnesota in greater Minnesota once they are released from prison. DOC agents work with these offenders to secure employment and permanent housing in their county of commit.

DOC contracts with halfway houses in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties to provide temporary transitional housing for Level 2 and 3 offenders who are released from prison and who do not have a stable residence. Placement in these halfway houses requires that offenders have exhausted all other housing options and must be approved by the supervising agent. This transitional housing provides offenders with the opportunity to find stable housing and stable employment. In some instances, DOC has been able to reach agreements with county jails to provide transitional housing for Level 3 offenders who have no other housing option. Local law enforcement agencies see this approach as more favorable to public safety than homelessness.

DOC has been able to locate housing for level 3 offenders with significant mental health issues and developmental issues by working with social services to ensure appropriate assessments are completed so funding is provided.

Without question, there are a large number of Level 3 offenders residing in Minneapolis, but also without question, the majority of those Level 3 offenders have strong connections to Minneapolis. 

(JNS blog interjects: That's just a lie. It has been demonstrated that we have been forced to take a sex offenders who, for example, claims to have a sister living in Minneapolis and then it turns out no such sister exists, and a sex offender who "needed" treatment at the local VA, but then refused to go to the VA in question, and the list goes on. It's like you didn't even read the letter you were replying to or answer its assertions) 

Minneapolis contributes approximately seven percent of the population of Minnesota; Hennepin County contributes 22 percent of the state’s population. In contrast, several key indicators provide important context for some of the seeming disparity.

Arrests in Hennepin County over the past five years have made up over 28 percent of all arrests statewide.

The 4th Judicial District (Hennepin) had the highest prison incarceration rate of all districts (30.6 percent) according to Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission reporting.

Hennepin County also has a higher percentage of presumptive prison commits for all offense types as well as a higher percentage for sex offenses, again based off data from the Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

Hennepin County’s percentage of prison admissions has comprised 22 percent of overall prison admissions since 2006

In contrast, Hennepin County’s percentage of sex offender admissions has grown dramatically since 2008 from 15 percent to almost 22 percent of sex offender prison admissions in 2011.

The 4th Judicial District (Hennepin) has one of the lowest referall rates resulting in civil commitment and, at 36 percent, is well below the statewide average of 45 percent.

39 percent of the 295 level 3 offenders residing in the community throughout Minnesota have either a current or prior Hennepin County commitment.

(JNS blog interjects: Never start a sentence with a number unless you spell out the number. See every stylebook ever written

Hennepin County is the current residence of 44 percent of the 295 level 3’s resiging in the community throughout Minnesota.

Of the 295 level 3 offenders residing in Minnesota communities 125 are on supervision and 170 are no longer under supervision and have no supervision obligation remaining.

Of the 129 level 3 offenders residing in Hennepin County 57 are no longer under supervision and have no supervision obligation remaining.

In your letter you reference five specific Level 3 offenders and indicate that the DOC is “…simply dumping this problem on Hennepin County and Minneapolis.” We have examined each of these cases and with the exception of one offender who is currently incarcerated in prison, the release to supervision in Hennepin County was consistent with DOC Policy 203.018 which directs that the following factors are taken into account in determining an offender’s release plan: stable and appropriate residence, employment, education, career development, corrections programming, family, support systems, and community supervision.

(JNS blog says: I don't see concentration mentioned. Neither did the people on the recent panel. It appears your policy is contrary to state law) 

The DOC has also completed several significant studies published nationally in peer-reviewed academic journals examining Minnesota sex offender recidivism, the positive results of programming and community notification as well as the results from our evaluation of residency and residential proximity. All of these published studies are available on the DOC public website, but a brief overview provides some important points for your consideration:

Of the 3,166 offenders released from Minnesota Correctional Facility between 1990 and 2002 there were 224 re-incarcerated for a sex offense following their release from prison. Only a minority of the 224 sex offender recidivists directly established contact with their victims. For those that did, they were much more likely to initiate contact first through another adult. Of the few offenders who directly contacted a juvenile victim, none did so near a school, park, playground or other location where children are normally present. Thus, not one of the 224 offenses would likely have been affected by residency restrictions.

The full version of this study can be found here:

Minnesota Department of Corrections (2007) Sex Offender Recidivism in Minnesota.
By the end of the follow-up period (an average of 8.4 years for all 3,166 offenders), 12 percent had been rearrested for a sex offense, 10 percent reconvicted, and 7 percent re-incarcerated (much less than the overall recidivism rate for the general offender prison release population).

The full version of this study can be found here:

Duwe, G. and Donnay, W. (2008). The impact of Megan’s Law on sex offender recidivism: The Minnesota experience. Criminology 46: 411-446.

This study offers evidence that suggests broad community notification has a deterrent effect on sex offense recidivism. Level 3 offenders had lower rates of sexual recidivism than either Level 1 or Level 2 offenders.

The full version of this study can be found here:

Without a doubt, public safety is of primary importance to all of us. We look forward to working with you, other stakeholders and community partners in our efforts to address the sex offender residency issue. We are available to meet with you to discuss the information contained in this letter and possible strategies for mitigating your concerns of the concentration of sex offenders in Minneapolis.

Tom Roy

Governor Mark Dayton
Hennepin County Commissioners
Senator D. Scott Dibble
Senator Ron Latz
Representative Debra Hilstrom
Representative Michael Paymar
Mayor RT Rybak
David J. Hough, Hennepin County Administrator
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney
Tom Merkel, Director, Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation


Anonymous said...

Keep on will do no good

Anonymous said...

Time for litigation. They'll never get the message otherwise. Hopefully an attorney not named Clark will be willing to pick up the case pro bono given the media coverage.

Carey Joe Howell said...

I believe 180 degrees halfway house has a suggested sex offender friendly housing list and so would any other organization that deals with sex they aren't "PLACING" them in our neighborhoods they are just --- well, you know.

Anonymous said...

No attorney will take this case. "The King can do not wrong".
The attorney that attempts it will be considered a fool.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

The letter doesn't even bring things down to the 55411 and 55412 zip codes. It just uses county-wide stats to gloss over the problem.

Anonymous said...

HH, I thought it did address the north side cluster.
What the letter says is that many of these offenders are no longer on any type of supervision and under the law can live wherever they choose, without any restrictions. It also says that many of these offenders were originally residents of the north side and have returned to north side.
It further says that residency restrictions would have little effect on keeping these offenders out of the north side.
The letter shares some pretty startling facts such as Hennepin County courts has a higher incarceration rate than other counties, and that Hennepin County is pretty much filling up our prisons. The result is that Hennepin County has more ex-inmate residents than any other county.
And many of them live in the north side and central neighborhoods, where there is a significant minority and immigrant population. If you start protesting the level of offenders in these neighborhoods, you will ignite a huge civil rights problem. These people live where they do by choice. You start telling them they can't live in "your" neighborhood, and we'll return to the riots of the 60's. I lived through those years and they were not pretty.
You want to live in a neighborhood sans prostitutes, drug dealers, perverts, and where your kids can play hockey the street? Try Maple Grove. I hear the property taxes are lower too.
YOU chose to live on the northside. You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

Riots of the sixties? Civil rights?!!? Kill all the perverts and their supporters who love them. How is that for a RIOT? How about we kill them and grind them up and feed them to you Pete@? 9:37? Would that be canaballism?