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More details on the release of predatory offender Holby

Holby's release in the community is temporary, which could be as little as 30 days.

Joshua L. Holby Crop.png
Josh L. Holby
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WADENA — The temporary release of level three predatory offender Josh Holby on Tuesday, June 14, triggered a community release meeting on Sunday, June 12, in Wadena. Other than local law enforcement, city officials, department of correction agents and two members of the public close to the victim, no other members of the public attended the public meeting.

The community notification meeting was an opportunity to learn more about the process of how an offender moves through the system of incarceration and release, and what may put him back into prison, which includes violation of any terms put against him for his crimes. There was a time for the public to ask law enforcement or corrections agents any questions about the process or have their concerns addressed.

Holby was to be released into his county of residence, Douglas County, where he has a support system available, but Minnesota Department of Corrections Notification Coordinator Brad VanderVegt explained that he was no longer able to move to the intended location. When a search for a nearby sites showed that Wadena had a place for him to live, it was determined he would move here on his release date on Tuesday, June 14, but only temporarily. What temporary may look like could be just 30 days according to Roman George, corrections agent supervisor. The intent is to get Holby back into Douglas County.

As of Tuesday, Holby is to reside in the vicinity of Bryant Avenue Southeast in Wadena.His exact location is known to law enforcement but not shared broadly with the public.

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Brad VanderVegt explains the process of release during a community notification meeting on Sunday, June 12, in Wadena.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

VanderVegt explained that when it comes time for a criminal's release, they must be released. They’ve found that the best outcome for those individuals to not reoffend is to avoid homelessness, get them near a support system and near resources. While that may make Alexandria the best fit for Holby, those involved in sentencing and the release of Holby are aware of the sensitivity of releasing an individual back into an area where their offense was committed or where the victim resides.

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Wadena Chief of Police, Naomi Plautz expressed that considering the severity of the crimes that were committed by Holby just five short years ago, Wadena is doing a kind favor by allowing this individual to live here if only temporarily.

“They have to go somewhere. They also have to go to the county where they committed their crime,” Plautz said.

“I feel that we are doing the community of (Alexandria) a favor and Jasmine and her family,” Plautz said. “Why not Wadena. Let’s help a neighboring community for a little bit. We can do this. My God, if this happened here I would hope some other community would step up and just take this guy for a little bit.”

Holby was convicted of kidnapping in January 2019, a charge for which he was sentenced to be committed to the commissioner of corrections correctional facility in St. Cloud for 86 months, with 491 days credit for time served, according to the Alexandria Echo Press.

The charges against Holby stem from his participation in the kidnapping of an Alexandria girl , Jasmine Block, who was 15 at the time. She was taken from her Alexandria home in August 2017 and held for several weeks. Two other men were also charged in the crime, Thomas Barker and Steven Powers.

Block’s mother, Sarah, and a boyfriend were the only ones present that were not law enforcement, department of corrections or city officials. They had a couple questions for agents related to where he would be living after he moved from Wadena. Sarah, shared that Holby was easily persuaded and that should be taken into consideration as he returns back into the population.

According to the notification of release, Holby "gained access to the victim while aiding his co-defendants as an accessory to their sexual and physical assaults. He and his accomplices used violence, fear and mood-altering substances to maintain control."

The statement of probable cause in the case reads that the girl, Jasmine Block, escaped from her captors in September 2017 after swimming across a lake and getting a ride from a passing driver.

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VanderVegt spoke at length about the fact that offenders have always lived among us. Broad notification like that for Holby occurs only for Level 3 offenders, which accounts for just 15% of all offenders. To put that into perspective, Wadena County has three level three offenders, all living in Wadena. Holby will make it four. As of June 8, Wadena County has 69 registered offenders. Thirty-nine of those are registered in the city of Wadena.

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Current registered offenders were numbered in some information shared by the Department of Corrections on Sunday, June 12, 2022, in Wadena.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

“Remember about these numbers, they are dynamic, they are constantly changing and fluctuating as these folks move around,” VanderVegt said.

He explained that these level three offenders are the only ones that require broad notification. All others are likely unknown to the public other than by law enforcement and those directly linked to the offender. And the level of the offender can change often too. A low level offender can be moved to higher risk based on their actions. Likewise, a high level offender can be lowered, even be removed from the registry if they are without any issues for long enough.

“Risk is not set. It is very much dynamic,” Vandervegt said.

VanderVegt explained that not to cause fear, rather to educate people to keep their guard up.

He explained that only about 3% of victims were strangers to the offender. In most cases the victim is known by the offender.

“I don’t want you leaving here today focusing everything on just one individual knowing that that broad awareness is just so much more important,” VanderVegt said.

There are people living in the community that must register but there may be no way for the public to know it unless they meet that high risk level.

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While fear was not the tool he wanted community members to utilize, he expressed that important conversations must be had with youth to help avoid being in dangerous situations.

“We know that scared kids do not equal safe kids. We also need to have those conversations that nice people do not equal safe people,” VanderVegt said. He recommended age appropriate conversations with youth so they are better prepared when parents and caregivers are not present.

VanderVegt explained that an offender must make it known where they live, frequent, work, what vehicles they drive, what school they attend and must notify of any changes to those.

“Failure to register is in and of itself a felony, and they can serve additional prison time for that crime. So it is incumbent on those on the registry to adhere to it. And we actually have a pretty high rate of compliance,” VanderVedgt said.

Vandervegt addressed the topic of Holby’s short prison stay. He entered in 2019 and now released in 2022.

“Why? Why do people who engage in this kind of harm, that shocks the conscience – why do they come out if only to potentially be given the opportunity to do this again,” VanderVegt said.

He described that it has to do with determinate sentencing. This new model works to better prepare these prisoners to avoid reoffending and returning to prison. Determinate sentencing says that he spends two-thirds of his time in prison and one-third out, under intensive supervised release.

He will be under supervision until November of 2024. At that time he will have to register until 2029. Registering for 10 years from the time of conviction is standard. If he does not reoffend, he will be off the registry and all his rights will be restored to him.

“He’s got a lot riding on successful reentry, no question about it,” VanderVegt said.

There will be three agents supervising Holby on a day-to-day basis. He will be on a house arrest status with electronic monitoring. He will be taken by agents for any appointment he may have.

Law enforcement shared various resources that can help answer questions on this topic to better educate the community. Those resources can be obtained from the Wadena Police Department or online.
Some of those resources include the following:

  • Stopitnow.org - 1-888-prevent
  • Jacob Wetterling Resource Center - jwrc.org - 1-800-325-4673
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - missingkids.com
  • Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault - 1-651-209-9993

To find out more about predatory offender registration, visit dps.mn.gov/divisions.bca

By the numbers

There are 18,790 registered predatory offenders in Minnesota

  • 433 are level three offenders
  • 69 registered offenders residing in Wadena County
  • 39 registered offenders residing in city of Wadena
  • 3 level three offenders in the city of Wadena.
He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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