Around the local civic blogosphere

kathleendorannorton.jpg Kathleen Doran-Norton: Health Care and the Uninsured in Northfield

"Fifty-eight out of 140 hospitals in Minnesota are offering lower prices for folks who are uninsured, according to the Star Tribune. The Northfield Hospital is not on this list, though Faribault and Owatonna's hospitals are."

garygsmith.jpgPolice Chief Gary Smith: Sex Offenders

"I noticed the Northfield News ran an article in this Saturday's paper about "Educating the Community About Sex Offenders." Unfortunately, the article didn't speak about the involvement of local law enforcement and the part they play in the community process... What the article did not mention... "

robbrown.jpgRob Brown: The Union of Youth

"The Key, or The Union of Youth, is held to higher standards for some reason. I guess it's easy to pick on kids. The Key is seen by many as a hive of delinquents. There are some bad kids everywhere, right? Some of those bad kids turn into good adults when they are supported and a sense of responsibility is fostered. The Key is this amazing youth-run organization. It's full of creative young adults."

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On the site, there is a link to Chief Smith's blog entry from June 26, 2005. The chief was commenting on an article in the June 25 edition of the Northfield News about sex offenders.

The blog entry contained one serious factual error. The Chief said that a former youth pastor from Northfield, convicted of a sex offense, never went to prison and was therfore never assigned a risk level. Not true. The man Chief Smith referred to was originally put on probation, with a stayed or suspended prison sentence. He did a year in the county jail as one condition of probation, then entered a sex offender treatment program. He later violated the terms of his probation and went to state prison, where he served another year and a half. Before completing his sentence there, his case was reviewed by the end-of-confinement committee and he was assigned risk level 2. He left prison this month and briefly lived in Montana (where he registered as a sex offender). He returned for a time to Rice County (Faribault, where he registered as a sex offender) and now lives in Dakota County (where he registered as a sex offender). He is subject to all the restrictions and conditions normally associated with a level 2 sex offender: registration, community notification, intensive supervision, and possible return to prison, among other things. He is being supervised by Dakota County Community Corrections' specialized sex offender unit.

The Chief is correct when he says that Rice County police, prosecution, probation, and others work closely together in tracking and supervising known sex offenders. He is also correct when he says that the reporter should have talked to police to get a more complete picture of how the local criminal justice agencies deal with sex offenders.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Haas
Director, Rice County Community Corrections