As we mentioned back in August, experts tasked with reviewing Minnesota’s current sex offender program asked to have their report deadline pushed back until mid-November. Today, they published their findings in a comprehensive 108-page report.
In all, the experts issued a list of 44 recommended changes for the program. Some of the most prominent recommendations include:
- The state’s civil commitment statute should be modified to ensure it only applies to sex offenders and those at the highest risk for recidivism.
- Expediting the process to move the only female resident to another location.
- Re-evaluating each resident to see if they truly meet the criteria for commitment.
- Institute a discharge plan for an offender as they are admitted to the program. The old program left many with ambiguous guidelines and little hope of being released.
- Both the state and the program should begin preparing communities to meet the needs of future discharged residents.
The report mirrors a state task force finding from 2013 which stated that the current sex offender reform system “captures too many people and keeps too many of them too long.” Officials at the Department of Human Services are currently reviewing the 108-page report to determine the state and the program’s next move.
When you look at the data, it’s hard to suggest the program has been anything but a life sentence for current offenders. Under the program’s 20-year history, of the more the 700 offenders admitted to the program, only two have ever been discharged.
In addition to the changes proposed in the report, the program faces another obstacle in the form of a class action lawsuit. A group of sex offenders has sued the state claiming the old process was a violation of their due-process rights. Their case is expected to presented to a judge in February.
Related source: Star-Tribune, Pioneer Press