Report finds high concentration of sex offenders in certain Minneapolis neighborhoods

If there was any good news in the results of an examination of where sex offenders live in Minneapolis, it was that there’s no indication that the city attracts offenders from elsewhere in the state.

Instead, the hundreds of sex offenders registered in the city and the county are mostly homegrown. But the task force set up by the city to examine the issue did confirm another of the council’s concerns — that offenders are concentrated in certain neighborhoods of the city. Just five zip codes are home to 790 so-called predatory offenders. All of those zip codes are in the Near North, North Minneapolis and Phillips neighborhoods. Of the total number of offenders, 58 are Level 3 offenders, considered the highest risk.

In the neighborhoods with the highest concentration, 0.71 percent of residents are offenders, said Lauren Martin, director of research at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center, which did the research for the task force. “That’s pretty significant,” she told members of the council’s public safety committee Wednesday. “It’s pretty high.”

The final report will be published next month. But the preliminary results caused some frustration among committee members, especially for the two members who represent wards in North Minneapolis. The council knew there were concentrations of offenders when it ordered the work group to examine the problem 28 months ago, even listing those neighborhoods in the resolution it adopted in March of 2013. What they wanted to hear were ways to respond to the issue.

Map Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau Boundaries, Data Source: Minnesota Department of Corrections, January 1, 2010

“What’s the plan going forward?” asked Council President Barbara Johnson.

Said Committee Chair Blong Yang: “Part of me is frustrated that we keep doing reports and we don’t have solutions.”

Martin said she didn’t expect a final report to contain recommendations for policy changes, but rather would serve as information to help others look at solutions. Velma Korbel, the director of the city’s Department of Civil Rights, said other city work groups — such as the county criminal justice committee — will use the report to consider and recommend changes to address the problem of over-concentration.

The report detailed one of the side effects of the state’s legal restrictions on where sex offenders can live: a clustering of offenders in the areas where they are allowed, Martin said. And because many landlords refuse to rent to offenders, they tend to congregate in housing where they are accepted. “The issue seems to boil down to housing, housing, housing,” Martin said.

Data provided by MnDOC, Dec. 2014, *3 offenders unaccounted for

The survey was taken among two distinct groups of offenders. The first was through Hennepin County community corrections, via supervisors working with offenders. The second was through Minneapolis police, and conducted when newly released offenders are required to register. Of those who responded through community corrections, the top reasons for living where the did were affordability, proximity to family — and availability. In the second group, half said they lived where they did because they couldn’t find anyplace else.

Martin said a review of studies on the issue shows that while reoffending among sex offenders is lower than the public perceives — they reoffend at lower rates than for other crimes — being homeless increases the recidivism rates.

While the public generally thinks of these offenders as sex offenders, the term used in the study is “offender required to register.” That’s because state law was changed to require a few classifications of offenders to register whose crimes did not have a sexual element. Those are kidnapping and false imprisonment. But the vast majority of those people who must register their residences are still sex offenders.

Also taking part in the work group were representatives from the police department, city attorney’s office, city coordinator’s office, the state department of corrections, the Council on Crime and Justice, social service provider RS Eden,  the county community corrections department, the state sex offender program, the Jordan Area Community Council and the Midtown-Phillips Neighborhood Association.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/17/2015 - 10:51 am.

    Not a surprise

    I expect to see banner headlines in the ‘Strib when a neighborhood proudly announces, “Yes, please! We’d like to have lots of Level 3 sex offenders living with us!”

    In the real world, no one, and especially no one with children or others especially vulnerable to this type of crime, is going to be happy with a sex offender next door. It’s no surprise to me that, as a result, sex offender residents are concentrated in parts of Minneapolis that have little political and/or economic clout, tend to be concentrated areas of poverty, and are populated by minorities. Housing segregation in Minneapolis is quite alive and well, it appears, so solutions that envision spreading this population out among more-affluent neighborhoods and suburbs is sure to meet with something approaching hysterical opposition.

    Unfortunately, there’s no other universe, or even planet, to which we can send people we don’t like or trust. Exile may be appealing to some, but given the equal protection clause in the Constitution, I doubt it can be made legal. Sex offenders, just like criminals of other types, need food, clothing, jobs, income, and places to live. Those needs don’t go away just because we’re fearful of the people who have them. Like most other convicted criminals, sex offenders aren’t likely to be affluent enough to rent in more upscale suburbs and neighborhoods. I’m afraid I’m no more prepared than the task force to provide a solution, or series of solutions, that would alleviate the concerns of those council members, or the citizens they represent, whose wards are most affected.

  2. Submitted by Richard O on 07/17/2015 - 11:04 am.

    Other than the fact that there are many offenders concentrated in one area, what is the issue?

  3. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 07/17/2015 - 12:39 pm.

    It happens in all cities , but one probability, maybe…

    …but I can only wonder that if those rentals are paid for by the state -at least initially – could be investor-landlords buy up cheap property with ‘guaranteed income’ while they live elsewhere Edina etc…just a thought and a profit motive is part of the answer?

  4. Submitted by Justin Adams on 07/17/2015 - 01:08 pm.

    Solutions

    1) Abolish the registration system entirely and stop tracking where these folks are living. I favor this option. They were convicted of crimes, served their sentences, and were released. They’re citzens. Requiring some people to be registered (particularly people who have lower than average recidivism rates for ex-cons), while allowing others to reintegrate quietly, violates my sense of what equal protection should mean.

    2) Since nobody will take #1 as a serious proposal, how about expanding the registration system to include all criminal convicitions. Selling loose cigarettes, DWIs, shoplifting, everything. We will find roughly the same distribution of ex-cons across our city as we find for “registered offenders,” but facilitating the successful reintegration of all ex-cons is something the public could possibly care about. As long as it is just about “sex offenders” more or less exclusively, NIMBY thinking will preclude any attempt to resolve the issue.

    3) Abolish the box. Make it illegal for property owners, financiers, and others to ask about past criminal convictions in hiring and housing applications or to consider those factors when making decisions. Preferably while providing adequate funding supports for housing, job skills and the other things that make sucessful reintegration with society possible.

    4) If none of the preceding are acceptable, it’s because the public really would like these folks locked up forever with no chance of parole. If that’s the case, then force judges and juries to sentence them to life without parole, build more prisons, and pay the exorbidant cost of incarcerating them for the rest of their lives.

  5. Submitted by Pat Thompson on 07/17/2015 - 01:49 pm.

    The odds

    If we assume that convicted sex offenders are almost all adults, and almost all men, the likelihood that a man within a neighborhood with a total population of .71% sex offenders is pretty high — something like 1 in 50, I’d estimate. (1 in 150 of the total population… remove a third of the population as being kids…. remove half of the remaining adults as being women.) Wow.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 07/17/2015 - 03:44 pm.

    Sex offenders need to stop preying on the weak, boys, girls and women. Then they can get food, clothing, housing, jobs, and if not put them away. Still no proof that you can cure certain predators.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 07/20/2015 - 08:42 pm.

    Clear Messages

    1. NIMBY
    2. Put them in challenged communities that already lack the resources to deal with the problems they have, pile it on make it worse, and then wonder why!.
    3. Concentration of poverty is a good thing, it overburdens the poverty stricken and gives folks a good reason to look further down their nose at them. That’s where these and other criminals end up, lowest price neighborhoods, and Henepin County, Minneapolis, and the State , do it on purpose. .
    4, There are other solutions but “NIMBY” rules. Example: Change the law requiring an equal distribution by Zip code, not so hard is that?
    5. The wrong metric was used, the correct metric would have been 790% of normal distribution.
    6. The Slum lords tend to be “suburban” thus they make a profit while driving down the the quality of life, and home values of thees inner city neighbor hoods. Lets keep that downward spiral alive and well.
    7. No one has the cajones to deal with the issue, because it means treating all neighborhoods equal, and equality is not what we are about.
    8. This is not new: Been on the front burner many times in some of the inner city neighbor hoods, first time probably near on 10 years ago, had a big blow out ~ 2 years back at North Library.

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