N.D. sex offenders struggle to find homesWhen high-risk sex offender Richard Vondal moved into a house close to Mandan High School, police were flooded with phone calls. The police had notified the public of his new address. Under pressure, Vondal chose to move. Vondal was not the first sex offender to live near a school. However, his case points out the problems of finding housing for people convicted of sex offenses.
By: An AP Member Exchange Feature By Jenny Michael, The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
MANDAN, N.D. — When high-risk sex offender Richard Vondal moved into a house close to Mandan High School, police were flooded with phone calls.
The police had notified the public of his new address. Under pressure, Vondal chose to move.
Vondal was not the first sex offender to live near a school. However, his case points out the problems of finding housing for people convicted of sex offenses.
“Nobody wants them in their neighborhood,” Mandan Police Deputy Chief Paul Leingang said.
State Parole and Probation Officer Brian Weigel said Vondal’s case shows how well the state’s registration requirement works in tracking sex offenders.
“It did exactly what it was supposed to,” he said.
Strong registration laws that allow authorities to better track convicted sex offenders are more effective than laws restricting where offenders can live, Weigel said. North Dakota’s law requires offenders to register an accurate address within 10 days of moving.
A mobile home set up on state prison property for homeless sex offenders has two occupants, according to the state sex offender registry.
The home, which can hold up to seven men until they find permanent housing, opened in June. The men pay $7 a day to live in the trailer, which has four bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. They have to wear a GPS locator at all times and follow a curfew.
Christopher Voisine has been living in the trailer since it became available. “I was the first when it (mobile home) opened and I’m trying to be the first out successfully,” he said.
Developing housing options for sex offenders has been an ongoing struggle for state corrections officials.
“If you’re homeless and unable to find stability, it actually makes a more high-risk situation,” Weigel said. “Stability is by far the best thing to try to reduce recidivism in the future.”
Timothy Profrock, a moderate-risk offender, was released from prison in 2005 after serving nine years for sex crimes involving a 27-year-old woman.
Profrock moved to Mandan in December 2008. He registered an address at a Mandan apartment in March, but eventually was evicted from there, Morton County Sheriff’s Detective Curt Berreth said.
In late August, Profrock registered an address of a campsite in Graner Park, the first of three public parks he has registered as addresses since then.
By early September, he had registered at a campsite in Little Heart Bottoms, followed in mid-September by Fort Lincoln State Park. Berreth expects him to register a new address soon because Fort Lincoln allows people to stay there for only two weeks.
Berreth said Profrock and his family would like to buy a home in the area or move back to Michigan. Because Profrock obeys the law and registers his address, the detective said, people know who he is and choose not to rent to him.
“It is tough for those guys,” he said. “That’s the way it is. They made choices earlier on in life.”
Weigel said laws in other states that restrict where sex offenders can live have been ineffective and counterproductive in many cases.
“The states that have passed laws such as that have found that it has caused greater problems because their registration compliance drops drastically,” Weigel said.
“People who have committed sexual offenses in the past are in our community, and we need to monitor them,” he said. “And if we put in to law such strong restrictions that they decide no longer to comply, then we’re kind of defeating our own purpose.”
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