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Can the Public Keep Sex Offenders From Moving To Their Community?

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Gregory Eugene Ward, the Level Three sex offender who has been trying to find a place to live in our area for the past few months, has been released from the Moose Lake Treatment Center and moved to the state prison in Lino Lakes. 
 
Department of Corrections officials say Ward will remain at that facility until he finds a place to live.

But he has already been turned down from four separate locations, and there have been two notification meetings where the public was able to influence the decisions of local landlords.

Officials worry this could become a trend.
 
Blue Earth County Community Corrections director Josh Milow says, "I think it could get worse. I think we are setting some difficult precedent with this situation. I've worked in the system a long time, working with sex offenders, Level II and Level III sex offenders, and I haven't seen a situation like this."

The odd thing about so many of these Level III sex offender cases we've covered over the years is the offender often received no prison sentence for the sexual assault.

Dino Bastian, a level III moving to New Ulm last November... Christopher Schueler, moving to Le Center back in 2008, and now Ward, only went to prison after violating their probation.
 
Jim Fleming says, "His initial sentence - he pleaded guilty and received a stayed sentence. So he was in the community."

Fleming finds many aspects of the sex offender program troubling, including the subjective nature of deciding whether an offender is Level 1, 2 or 3.

And budget restraints for a fast growing population may force the Legislature to take a closer look at how we deal with the problem.

Milow says, "We don't dictate who gets to come out of prison, or who comes out of facilities. So we have to do the best job we can do when they're in our community."