August 28, 2014

Minnesota’s predatory offender registry a tool, not protection

8-28-2014 Minnesota:

While they’re helpful tools, Minnesota’s predatory offender registry and notification system can lead to a false sense of protection and safety.

“It’s designed only to let law enforcement know where they’re living in the community,” said Donna Dunn, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The predatory offender registration law, created in 1991, includes a public listing of where higher risk offenders who’ve been convicted of certain predatory and sex offenses reside and notification meetings when they move into a community. Information about those with lower risk levels is accessible only to law enforcement — unless those offenders go missing or fail to register as required.

A tool

Le Sueur County Investigator Bruce Collins says the state’s predatory offender registry is useful, but only in certain circumstances.

“The predatory offender database has an enormous amount of information,” said Collins. “For example, it is set up especially for investigating sex crimes.”

The database, he said, can be valuable if a registered offender reoffends.

Collins said the Sheriff’s Department might refer to the database while investigating a rape or sex crime committed by a stranger or someone unknown to the victim, adding that they can enter the suspect’s physical description into the database and see if it matches any of the area’s predatory offenders.

Eric Knutson, the special agent in charge of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s predatory crime section said law enforcement agencies refer to the registry while investigating certain crimes to see if there predatory offenders live in the area, but couldn’t say what percentage of crimes are committed by past offenders.

Only a small percentage of sexual assaults are committed by strangers, Collins said.

According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, approximately 73 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.


Studies show a large percentage of offenders, even non-compliant ones, don’t typically violate mandated restrictions, which makes overseeing them, for the most part, a mundane chore.

But when offenders do go missing, local law enforcement agencies must try to track them down. ..Continued.. by JESSICA BIES

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