Sex Offender Relocation Near School Has Neighbors Worried

Updated: 12/26/2013 11:02 PM
Created: 12/26/2013 10:58 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- A level three sex offender will soon be moving to Albert Lea, and while that's sometimes unwelcomed news for neighbors, some residents are especially upset because of what's already in the neighborhood where he's moving.

On January 6th, 58-year-old Joseph Harry Jensen will be released from Lino Lakes correctional facility where he's been incarcerated for criminal sexual conduct involving a young girl between the ages of 13 and 15, who he knew.

Jensen will move to the 500 block of Pillsbury Avenue. It's a block like any other, but if you go just one more block down the road and up the hill, you'll find yourself at Hawthorne Elementary School.

"My first thought was, ‘Why are they doing this in a school area?’" said Sue Hamberg, who lives with her husband Bob on the block that Joseph Jensen will soon share.

With grandchildren at their house frequently, and relatives with small children down the street, the Hambergs said it's no place for a sex offender.

"We just have all these kids that come by our house every day,” Sue Hamberg said. “[He] should be away from the school area altogether."

In Minnesota, there is no state law that prohibits sex offenders from living near schools or daycares, but cities and counties can impose their own restrictions.

In 2006, both Albert Lea and Austin considered a residency ordinance for sex offenders, but decided they would be nearly impossible to enforce, and experts say restrictions on where offenders can live has little impact on whether they'll offend again.

But for families like the Hambergs, they say they want Jensen gone before he ever arrives.

"We'll definitely keep our eyes open,” Sue Hamberg said. “Obviously he's got to have some place to live, but not in an area with children."

If you live in the area and would like to learn more about this situation, the Albert Lea Police Department will hold a public information meeting on January 2nd at 6 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church.