Today on Johnny Northside, the lead post is of a sex offender who removed his monitoring device and is a wanted fugitive. Four months ago, the Minnesota Auditor’s department released a report about how flawed our sex offender treatment program is. As part of that report, a sex offender task force was recommended. (or click here for the bill, which is now languishing in the Senate) Thanks to our government shutdown, this bill probably won’t be considered in a special session, meaning that we’ll have to pressure our legislators to bring it forward again next year.
The sex offender task force would examine a multitude of issues, and the legislation leaves an opening to add more items for review. But one issue NOT mentioned in the proposal is the high concentration of sex offenders in neighborhoods such as north Minneapolis, especially the 55411 zip code.
For example, counties get to decide which offenders are civilly committed after their prison term. In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, about 35% of offenders are committed. Throughout the rest of Minnesota, it’s roughly twice that number. Some offenders who are released have a higher recidivism rate than those who are committed, meaning that the counties 1) are not making consistent decisions, and 2) aren’t even making inconsistent decisions that benefit our community.
The Sex Offender Issues blog has an excellent post detailing this problem in an even-handed way. The post cites the specific law about concentration of sex offenders:
“The agency responsible for the offender’s supervision shall take into consideration the proximity of the offender’s residence to that of other level III offenders and proximity to schools and, to the greatest extent feasible, shall mitigate the concentration of level III offenders and concentration of level III offenders near schools.”
There are 229 level three sex offenders in Minnesota, with 107 of those living in Hennepin County. 102 of them live in Minneapolis, with 50 in north Minneapolis – 24 in one zip code. That zip code has more L3SO’s than the entirety of St. Paul. In the short term, there may not be much to be done that can reduce this number. But folks should call their city council member and make it clear that the L3SO issue should be part of the city’s 2012 legislative agenda. And when the task force does finally get created, north Minneapolis deserves several things: a spot at the table for making recommendations and decisions, a consistent statewide approach to supervised release vs. civil commitment, and a promise that the concentration of offenders is properly addressed.
(Photo from Johnny Northside blog)