One local story that has gotten some national attention is the kidnapping, ten days ago, of a twenty-two year old student at the University of North Dakota named Dru Sjodin. Sjodin is from northern Minnesota, and was kidnapped as she left her job at a shopping mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
A suspect has now been arrested: fifty-year-old Alfonso Rodriguez of Crookston, Minnesota. Rodriguez’ arrest has triggered a controversy, as he is a convicted Level 3 sex offender who was released from prison in May. If he proves to be guilty, the controversy may become a firestorm.
As a convict classified as a “Level 3 predator,” Rodriguez has his own page on the Minnesota Department of Corrections’ web site. The web site has this information for Rodriguez:
“Offender information: Offender has a history of sexual contact and attempted kidnapping with adult females. Contact included pentration in two instances. Offender used force and has used a weapon to gain compliance. Offender was previously known to one victim, not previously known to two victims.”
The site records a release date of May 1, 2003, and says that Rodriguez is “no longer under supervision.” When Rodriguez was released from prison and went to live with his mother in Crookston, corrections authorities held an informational meeting for neighborhood residents to alert them to the fact that a Level 3 sex offender was living in their midst. After that, they were on their own.
Many Minnesotans and North Dakotans want to know why a repeat rapist was released at all; it is common knowledge that recidivism rates among sex offenders are astronomical. News of Rodriguez’ arrest led Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty to call for re-institution of the death penalty. As always, local Democrats view Republican advocacy of measures that are popular with the public as dirty pool. The Minneapolis Star Tribune quotes Democratic Rep. John Lesch of St. Paul: “This is absolutely a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate situation that happened to this young girl. When we talk about this situation we should keep it focused on why this happened and who was responsible for releasing him.” Well, actually, it is leglislators like Resch who are responsible for Rodriguez’ release, which was done in compliance with state law.
Meanwhile, despite Rodriguez’ arrest, Dru Sjodin has still not been found. At this point, one assumes that the authorities are looking for her body. The attention that this case received probably resulted in part from the fact that Sjodin is, or was, a beautiful young woman. But the rape and apparent murder of any woman is a hideous crime–not “an unfortunate situation that happened to this young girl.” Ordinary citizens who are outraged by the fact that a repeat rapist is on the streets committing more crimes are right: it is absurd to risk the lives and safety of innocent young women like Dru Sjodin so that criminals like Rodriguez can be free.
And, once again, we see how inadequate the liberal vocabulary–more fundamentally, the liberal worldview–is to deal with the brutal realities of life and death. An “unfortunate situation,” indeed.
Alfonso Rodriguez and Dru Sjodin are pictured below.
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