Officials: Be aware of Dahlager, but don’t be a ‘vigilante’

Level 3 registered predatory offender allowed to move into Marshall

MARSHALL — Like it or not, 36-year-old James Dahlager, a Level 3 registered predatory offender, is now part of the Marshall community.

In a community notification and education presentation by Mark Bliven, director of risk assessment and community notification with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), those in attendance learned that Dahlager has twice been convicted of sexual offenses.

“His sexual offending history goes back to when he was 13 years old,” Bliven said. “Back in 1994, he was involved in sexual offending against a 3-year-old. He was adjudicated as a juvenile and went through treatment programs dealing with that. Then in 2000, as a adult now, he had sexual contact with a 12-year-old female.”

Bliven added that Dahlager gained access to the victims because he was known to the family.

“He took advantage of that and sexually offended,” Bliven said.

According to Bliven, Dahlager was actually given a chance — he was put on probation — but he did not cooperate with the probation.

“He failed in his ability to cooperate with the conditions of his probation, so the prison sentence he received was then put in place and he went to prison for it, Bliven said. “That’s what we mean by ‘sentence executed.’ It was hanging over him — if he cooperated, he would not have went to prison. But he didn’t do well with that and went to prison.”

Because Dahlager went to prison, he was assigned a risk level. Based on his history of sexually offending, coupled with chemical dependency issues, Dahlager was designated as Level 3. He’s the second Level 3 offender to move into the Marshall community.

“You have a right to know about him, but he is done with his prison sentence and is allowed to move into the community,” Bliven said. “About 95 percent of offenders that go to prison move back into the community. So we need to have successful transitions — don’t be a vigilante or mess around with him — but you have the right to be aware of him.”

Bliven said Dahlager got involved “in a string of robberies across the southern half of Minnesota” and wound up in prison again in 2007. After spending time in transitional housing, Dahlager is now being transitioned back into society — but not without a plan and supervision.

“If you’re not going to lock them up forever, what are you going to do?” Marshall Police Chief Rob Yant said. “So that’s why we’re holding a meeting — to get out the information.”

Yant and Bliven said being informed and aware are two of the key elements involved in maintaining safety when a registered offender transitions into a community.

“The safest community is the most involved community,” Bliven said. “If you see something, say something. Pay attention and communicate with law enforcement.”

While it is important to be aware of Dahlager’s presence in the community — he’s 5-foot-4, 199 pound with green eyes and brown hair and is going to be living in the 600 block of West Main Street — Bliven said people shouldn’t just focus on him.

“Registrants and those with a history of sex offending have always lived in our communities,” Bliven said. “It’s likely, they live, work and interact in every community in Minnesota.”

During the presentation, Bliven revealed that as of Jan. 1, 2017, there were approximately 17,680 people registered in Minnesota. About 9,000 of those are assigned a risk level — 15 percent are Level 3, 29 percent are Level 2 and 56 percent are Level 1.

As of this week, there were 62 registrants in Lyon County — 43 of those in Marshall.

“We’re talking about one person tonight,” he said. “These numbers will change because people move in and out. You might not know about it, but local law enforcement and the county sheriff’s office know about them and they can track them.”

Redwood County currently has 53 registrants, while Murray County has 15.

“Murray County is a small county, so that makes sense,” Bliven said. “Hennepin County, the biggest county in the state, has 2,500 registrants. So the number of registrants really is reflective of what your overall population is.”

Bliven added that 95 percent of registered offenders do not re-offend.

“The most dangerous person is the one who hasn’t been caught offending yet,” he said. “Once they’ve been identified, there’s a better chance at stopping the offending behavior.”

High-risk offenders, including Dahlager, are required to be placed on Intensive Supervised Release (ISR) upon release from prison.

“(James Dahlager) will be under Intensive Supervised Release until 2020, so a little more than two years,” Bliven said. “We have four agents who will be monitoring this person. They can check in with him 7 days a week, 365 days a year, whether it’s 3 o’clock in the morning or on New Year’s Eve.”

In addition to unannounced visits, some of the components of ISR could include house arrest, electronic monitoring, random drug and alcohol testing and work visits.

“It’s highly structured, especially in the beginning,” Bliven said. “Gradually, it can be loosened up. Ultimately, the goal is to have a seamless transition from being supervised to not having supervision — to have the offender be self-regulating.”

While the DOC is charged with assigning risk levels and delivering information to the public, once an offender moves into a community, the reins are handed over to local law enforcement, which is why it is important for community members to avoid being fearful, be aware and stay informed.

“Know who your children have relationships with,” Bliven said. “About 90 percent of offenders are known to the victim. So if you’re paying attention, you’re a great asset to law enforcement.”

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