Monday, October 8, 2007

stigma, fear, power, & control in the u-district

today's seattle times includes a story about how the university of washington is forcing 13 sex offenders to move out of an area just north of the university. for the past seven years, a number of sex offenders on probation have lived quietly in rental houses near the fraternities and sororities of the u-dub greek system. while the offenders have never caused trouble, people in power--including university president mark emmert and washington governor christine gregoire--have decided they must relocate.

landlord carol clarke works closely with each of the felons who rents from her, setting strict ground rules and encouraging them to do good; with short notice she is about to lose 13 of her 55 tenants. she intends to fight the university to let the tenants stay; in her view, the students cause more trouble than her tenants.

several things bother me about this story, but i'll point out two. first, while a spokesperson for u-dub panhellenic said they haven't had specific problems with any of the13 individuals, "sororities have been advised to know the location of sex-offender housing and 'gain as much information as they can' about sexual predators in the area." i wonder if that includes looking into the fraternities and dorms in the area, as well. chances are if a student is going to be sexually assaulted, it will be by a fellow student and not a stranger who happens to live in the neighborhood.

second, "As part of the UW's neighborhood plan, [vice-provost] Godfrey said the university is looking into purchasing properties and maintaining them as student rental housing. He said Clarke's five homes are in the real-estate corridor they are interested in most." interesting. so, with the governor's approval, they force a quarter of the residents out of the very rental properties they are hoping to purchase.

whose interests are really being protected here?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. And, if the UW President and the Governor really wanted to enhance the safety of the public they would promote stable housing instead of totally disrupting these people's lives.

As anyone who works in this field knows: 1) 90% of new sex offenses are committed by someone who has never been convicted of a sex offense; 2) A person is much more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know vs a stranger; 3) Sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of any crime; and 4) Stable housing and stable employment are key elements in the successfully treatment of a sex offender.

For some interesting reading checkout this recently released study by the Human Rights Commission: