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Continued: A backlash against Minnesota's growing ranks of Level Three sex offenders

  • Article by: BRANDON STAHL and MAYA RAO , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: April 15, 2013 - 10:26 AM

About half of the offenders living in north Minneapolis have assaulted a victim they didn’t know, and half have assaulted a child or teen, a Star Tribune analysis found.

Fearful residents have found ways to cope with so many sex offenders as neighbors.

One father won’t let his four children go anywhere near the offenders’ homes.

One young woman down the street checks an app on her phone that shows where sex offenders live.

One high school girl stays on alert when she passes a duplex housing offenders on her way to the bus stop.

“The North Side just happens to be where they sweep everything under the rug in Minneapolis,” said Will Lumpkins, who lives with his girlfriend on Golden Valley Road.

While not every sex offender is a danger, he said, putting so many of them here “is taking advantage of poverty in the neighborhood.”

Longtime residents like Dennis Wagner say they know their neighborhood has other problems. But he said the high number of sex offenders scares away families with children.

“Would I want to buy a house here? Would I want to send my kids to school here? I don’t think so,” Wagner said. “It creates ghettos.”

Similar frustration is rising in St. Paul. Three of the city’s 32 offenders live in a duplex on Reaney Avenue on the east side of town, including one who has a history of sexually assaulting girls as young as 11.

“They’re always out there trying to pick up girls,” said the owner of the building, James Gee.

Gee said he’s worked with probation officers to rent his units to the offenders for a few years. But because of the trouble the offenders have caused, he said he is putting the building up for sale.

“A lot of the neighbors don’t like it,” he said. “In a couple months, they’ll be out of here.”

Some offenders say they have nowhere else to go. “Where do you want me to live, under a bridge?” asked one Level Three sex offender who lives on Golden Valley Road.

Despite the law, concentrating sex offenders actually has advantages, some corrections officials say.

One Hennepin County official pointed to a 2004 Colorado study showing that high-risk offenders are less likely to commit more crimes if they live in the same dwelling. A 2008 analysis by the Minnesota Department of Corrections found that only a 5 percent reoffend rate for Level Threes, lower than other sex offenders.

“They hold each other accountable,” said Hana O’Neil, sex-offender supervisor for Hennepin County Community Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Putting sex offenders in the same house, or the same neighborhood, can also make it easier to track them.

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