Copyright ©2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen.

In Seattle, the University of Washington is trying to evict a group of residents living in private houses near the campus. They haven't been throwing wild parties or defacing school property, but the university insists these tenants pose a threat to campus security.

NPR's Martin Kaste has more.

MARTIN KASTE: Carol Clarke runs five rooming houses near Fraternity Row. She's a classic Seattle landlady - flannel shirts, a long gray braid of hair coiled on top of her head, and she's picky about her tenants.

Ms. CAROL CLARKE (Landlady): I will not take freshman or sophomore students from the UW. They're brats.

KASTE: Clarke prefers renting to sex offenders. She took in the first one seven years ago, and now there are 21. None of them has been known to re-offend or cause any trouble in the neighborhood. Clarke says they behave because she keeps an eye on them, and so does the Department of Corrections.

Ms. CLARKE: I'm the only landlord in the district that has DOC officers visiting night or day.

KASTE: How's that work? Do they just come by here?

Ms. CLARK: They have keys. I've given them keys.

KASTE: In fact, Department Of Corrections officials have praised Clarke. They say her houses are exactly the kind of structured, monitored living arrangement that helped sex offenders stay on the straight and narrow.

But now, at the University's request, the department is telling the 13 sex offenders who are still on parole that they have to move out.

Sirius Malcolm(ph) limps through the front door. He was paroled in 2005 after doing 15 years for statutory rape. Now he is 52 and he walks with a cane - barely.

Mr. SIRIUS MALCOLM: I had an operation on my back for a herniated disc. They're getting ready to put a pain pump in my back.

KASTE: He's just come from a meeting with his corrections officer, who told him that he has two days to move. But Malcolm says this is the only place he can afford.

Mr. MALCOLM: I've tried to follow the rules and not do anything wrong, and I feel like being punished for trying to be good.

KASTE: But many students around here welcome the eviction. Undergraduate Jaclyn Dubow(ph) lives in the neighborhood and says the university needs to watch out for its students.

Ms. JACLYN DUBOW (Resident): There's people walking around, sometimes alone, sometimes, you know, drunk. So they could not be in the right state of mind, and just anything to make it safer is better.

KASTE: Campus safety is the responsibility of Eric Godfrey, the vice provost for student life.

Mr. ERIC GODFREY (Vice Provost, Student Life): When parents send their sons and daughters to the university, they don't anticipate that they are going to be living in close proximity to a high concentration of sex offenders.

KASTE: Last spring, a woman was murdered on campus. The university responded with a new safety plan, which calls for the sex offenders to move out, even though they didn't have anything to do with the murder.

Mr. GODFREY: It is a perceived threat based on density, certainly based on our interactions with UWPD about the potential.

KASTE: But while the university asked its police department for advice, it did not asked the opinion of the experts over in the psychology department.

Professor BILL GEORGE (of Washington): I wouldn't say it disappoint me. I would say that it flies in the face of the logic.

KASTE: UW Professor Bill George has done extensive research on sex offenders and how to keep them from re-offending. He calls the removal of Clarke's tenants, in his word, un-therapeutic. And he says the university's theory...

Prof. GEORGE: That the community is safer because those guys were gone.

KASTE: ...is not based on scientific evidence.

Prof. GEORGE: There's nothing from a clinical or research perspective that would support that.

KASTE: But George also says he wouldn't expect the school to be scientific about this issue. He says universities have good reason to worry about the perception of safety, and getting rid of sex offenders is just as political for a university, he says, as it is for any small town.

Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.