JAMESTOWN — A disproportionate number of registered sex offenders live in Jamestown compared to other cities in the state, according to Scott Edinger, Jamestown chief of police.
“We’re by far the highest,” he said.
Jamestown is home to 86 registered sex offenders, Edinger said. That does not include offenders in the James River Correctional Center, Stutsman County Correctional Center or the North Dakota State Hospital Sexual Offender Treatment Program.
Records show Jamestown makes up 2% of North Dakota’s population but is home to 5.7% of the registered sex offenders not in prison, jail or committed to a treatment program in the State Hospital.
“You could see more (registered sex offenders) in Jamestown because more landlords are willing to rent to registered offenders,” said Eric Hassebrock, sex offender specialist and probation officer for the North Dakota Department of Corrections of Rehabilitation in Jamestown.
Monitoring the population
The Jamestown Police Department has a more strenuous protocol for tracking registered sex offenders than required under state law, according to Lt. John Gletne, the officer assigned to manage the sex offender monitoring system.
“We have a system we think is working,” he said. “We have officers assigned to make contact (with each registered sex offender) every month.”
North Dakota law requires registered sex offenders make contact with the law enforcement agency where they live just once each year if they are not on probation. They are also required to make contact if they move to a new apartment or home, change jobs, change phone numbers or even change an email address.
Sex offenders who are on court-ordered parole or probation also deal with parole officers of the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Hassebrock said.
“Initially, it defaults to the maximum level which is an absolute minimum of one (visit) time per month,” he said. “We also are in contact with their therapists, employers and others they are in contact with.”
If the probation officer determines there might be a problem, daily reporting by the sex offender can be required. In addition, sex offenders are on GPS monitoring for at least the first year of probation, Hassebrock said. That can be extended if the probation officer determines there is a potential for problems.
Hassebrock said the bulk of the problems he encounters with sex offenders on parole or probation are technical in nature and include things like not checking in or registering or notifying his office if they move or take a new job.
“Very few revocations are sex related,” he said, referring to the number of sex offenders who have had their probation revoked. “It is not uncommon to see revocations on other issues.”
Who they are
Of the 86 registered sex offenders in Jamestown, 35 are high risk and are required to register for life as sex offenders, Gletne said. Of the rest, 22 are moderate offenders required to register for 25 years and 22 are low risk offenders who are registered for 15 years. There are seven sex offenders residing in Jamestown who have not been assigned a risk level yet by the North Dakota attorney general’s office.
Gletne said some, but not all, of the registered sex offenders living in Jamestown have been released from the State Hospital Sexual Offender Treatment Program. Others have been listed as a sex offender as a component of their court sentence.
A review of the attorney general’s listing for registered sex offenders residing in Jamestown shows about 70% committed the most recent crime listed in their history outside Stutsman County.
“That doesn’t surprise me because of our location,” Edinger said. “We have the prison, the State Hospital Sex Offender unit, the Human Service Center. A lot of them end up here. The Department of Corrections even has a parole officer that specializes in sex offenders here.”
According to the North Dakota attorney general’s website, the Department of Corrections has nine probation officers that specialize in working with sex offenders around the state.
Gletne said the registered sex offenders work in a variety of jobs including construction, agriculture and fast food in Jamestown. They have more problems finding housing than jobs, he said.
Gletne said the number of registered sex offenders residing in Jamestown “grows by a few each year.”
Edinger said the process the Police Department uses to monitor sex offenders is working in Jamestown.
“I don’t think we’d change anything,” he said. “It takes a lot of time, but we’ve had very few incidents.”