I’m pretty sure it’s a bad idea, especially for people like Eugene Anderson. I watched KGAN’s story on Eugene tonight with interest, mainly because they probably got the idea from my coverage on sex offenders who are allowed to live in parking lots and under bridges, as well as the change of address listings I’ve started putting in our Police Log. But I’m also interested because I know the law that helped force him there needs to be changed.

Anderson was convicted of raping his stepdaughter while displaying a dangerous weapon in 1994 outside of Iowa. He was later released from jail, and he showed up in Cedar Rapids 10 years later. He registered his address as 531 12th St. SE and within 3 years was twice charged with failure to register his correct whereabouts with the Sheriff’s Office. After he served his jail time for the last charge, he registered his address as living underneath the Third Street bridge in mid-November. And, apparently, he’s keeping true to his word.

KGAN reporter Chris Jose went down there tonight to talk to Anderson, and he found him. He told Jose that he doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him, but that people should try living a week in his shoes. Basically, he wanders the streets of Cedar Rapids all day because he has nowhere else to go, then sleeps under a bridge. Sounds like a good plan for a guy convicted of violently raping his stepdaughter, no?

Here’s an idea — how about trying to make this guy’s life better instead of worse? He’s got no money, no house, no job, no family. He says he doesn’t break the law, but what’s he got to lose? Clearly, he hasn’t always been a good guy, but laws like Iowa’s 2,000-foot law haven’t made it any easier on him post-conviction. Don’t we  need to plan for the reintegration of ALL criminals into our communities once they’ve completed their sentences and try to help them become awesome, healthy tax-paying citizens such as ourselves? After all, the only difference between them and us is that they got caught doing something wrong.

So kudos to you, Chris Jose. I’ve been able to catch up with very few registered sex offenders in my time. Especially in the bitter cold.