It may be hard to listen when officials explain how sex offenders find housing, when you’ve just received a flyer notifying you that one is moving in. Jordan resident Dennis Wagner did some math, and recently figured out that North Minneapolis zip codes had astronomically bigger concentrations of sex offenders than any other zip code in the state.
An official speaking at a recent Dessert with Don (Samuels, 5th Ward Council Member) gathering said there are landlords who seek to house sex offenders, not because either party is evil, but because in order to rent, the person has to have a job, and has regular accountability to a case worker. Because of notifications, neighbors know what the offender looks like and can be careful.
"I’d worry more about the ones we haven’t caught," said a Victory neighborhood resident after the meeting, ducking the expected glaring darts from those who might not appreciate his view.
Paul Kusterman, who founded Correctional Transitional Services, Inc. (CTSI) told NorthNews that sometimes, in order for a convicted criminal to set life straight after prison, he or she can’t return to stay in their old environment. There are too many temptations, too many people relying on them to play roles not healthy for them.
CTSI’s Criminals-Gangs Anonymous, which meets weekly even through some rocky times for its parent organization, takes a twelve-step, twelve-traditions approach, treating criminal behavior as an addiction. Its members celebrate getting and keeping employment or schooling, work on staying clean, and support each other through the ritual of meeting.
Some friends who were each divorced refer to their lovely North Minneapolis home as the "start over" for each of them. Because of house values, it’s the start-over neighborhood for many.
A friend, who owns a house that was one of the "dollar" houses in the 1970s (buy for a dollar and complete a rehab plan) once explained that her neighborhood is a lot of "live and let live," which fits well for people whose life conditions or choices might otherwise carry a stigma, and gives them a second chance to pursue a stable and productive path.
We don’t have to "hug a thug," but giving people a second chance is a sign of strength in the community. Any one of us might need it someday.