Panel: Take control of your safety
Published 9:13 am Friday, March 13, 2009
People in the Albert Lea community must take precautions to protect themselves everyday from predators, not just when there’s news of a high-risk offender coming to town.
That was the clear message from the members of a panel set up Thursday at Crossroads Church to answer questions about the high-risk offender who is moving to Albert Lea this week.
Tackling questions from a crowd of more than 120 people, the panel encouraged people to take control of their own lives to empower themselves through available information.
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“You can’t prevent what he’s going to do, but you’re being armed with information right now in ways you can take control,” said Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center Director Rose Olmsted.
On Monday, Level 3 offender Jabar Pedro Morarend will be released from prison and will move to the 1600 block of Frank Hall Drive, where he will live with family.
He was convicted in 1998 for first-degree criminal sexual contact out of Rice County after he raped an adult woman and was sentenced to 110 months in prison.
He will be supervised until Dec. 20 and will be required to update the state’s predatory offender registry until March of 2019.
Discussing the issue were Olmsted, Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson, Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels, Albert Lea Police Detective Frank Kohl, supervision agent Troy Diekman and Michele Murphy of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
During a presentation to the group, Murphy said Morarend’s Level 3 assessment means that he is at a high risk of reoffending any kind of crime once he is released from prison.
She said 90 days before an offender is released from prison, a Department of Corrections committee assigns a risk level to the offender.
The committee bases the risk level on a number of factors including the offender’s criminal history, any treatment records, juvenile records, social and familial relationships, educational history, and behavior while incarcerated, she said.
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension: www.bca.state.mn.us/bca.asp
Minnesota Department of Corrections: www.doc.state.mn.us
United States Department of Justice: www.nsopr.gov
Jacob Wetterling Resource Center: www.jwrc.org, 1(800) 325-HOPE
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: www.missingkids.com; 1(800) 843-5678
Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children: MICAC Task Force at (651) 265-3882
Stop It Now! MN: www.stopitnow.org/mn, 1(888)-PREVENT
MDH Sexual Violence Prevention Web site: www.health.state.mn.us/svprevent
Office of Justice Programs, Crime Victim Services: www.ojp.state.mn.us, 1(888) 622-8799
A Level 1 offender has a low risk of reoffending, while a Level 2 offender has a moderate risk of reoffending. A Level 3 offender has a high risk of reoffending. This does not mean that Level 3 offenders will necessarily commit a new crime, but that they are part of a group of people who are most likely to.
Based on the ratings of the offenders, officials know what type of notification to perform when the prisoners are released.
When a Level 1 offender is released, law enforcement agencies are called and victims and witnesses may be notified.
With a Level 2 release, more people are notified, including schools, daycares and other establishments that tend to serve potential victims.
With a Level 3 release, the entire community is notified at a public meeting, in addition to the Level 2 notifications.
Murphy said since 1996, there have been 135 Level 3 sex offenders assigned a risk level in Minnesota.
The predatory offender registry is run by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, where there are currently 15,000 active predatory offenders registered in Minnesota, she said. About one-third of those people have been to prison.
She talked of many statistics about sexual abuse in the state, pointing out that an estimate of only 12 percent of child sexual abuse is reported. Two-thirds of sexual abuse victims are under 18, and victims are predominantly female, she said.
In Minnesota, 60 percent of sexual abuse is done by an acquaintance.
Murphy said since 1990, the sexual recidivism rate has decreased dramatically to where it is down to 3 percent.
Community members can help assist in monitoring an offender’s behavior and activities where appropriate. Community members can also take steps to make sure there family is safe and educated, she said.
Though many people in the audience questioned being able to be safe living near Morarend, the panel said people can’t live their lives in fear.
They reminded people that law enforcement and Department of Corrections agents will be keeping a close eye on Morarend. If he does not keep his registration as a predatory offender up to date, he can be prosecuted.
“I want to applaud all of you who are here,” Olmsted said to the audience.
The first step in dealing with victims of abuse is helping them take back some control, she said. She encouraged people to sign up to have a neighborhood meeting with police to talk about any concerns they have and to look at ways people can take some of that control.
She said while she is concerned about Morarend moving to Albert Lea, she is actually more concerned about the other offenders in Albert Lea she doesn’t know about.
“Those are the unknowns and unknown histories,” Olmsted said.