Wednesday, June 17, 2015, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program is unconstitutional. The judge, however, has decided to wait for further proceedings before taking implementing a remedy to the situation. Over 700 residents were civilly committed to the sex offender program after serving prison sentences.
The lawyers of the sex offenders argued throughout the six-week bench trial in February and March saying that the sex offender treatment program is unconstitutional due to the fact that nobody has ever been fully discharged from the sex offender program, even those who are decidedly at a low risk of committing new crimes.
The State argued that the program had been improved. The State has also moved more patients through the treatment program into provisional release. Judge Frank, does not believe this is enough and that the sex offender treatment program is still unconstitutional. Frank has said court proceedings to determine a better solution will start in August.
Minnesota has had problems for years dealing with the rising costs of its sex offender policy and spending millions to update and expand Minnesota’s two sex offender facilities. Lawmakers were afraid of coming across too soft on crime and have refrained from making substantial changes to the program. Judge Frank does want the residents of Minnesota to know, however that the Moose Lake and St. Peter facilities will not be closed immediately. The solution to this issue has to meet at least a dozen requirements. Judge Frank will be appointing a special person to oversee the process for compliance. He has given the warning that the failure to be in compliance with the requirements, will lead to the judge ordering the closing of the St. Peter and Moose Lake facilities or the extensive release of the facility’s patients as Judge Frank has ruled Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program unconstitutional.
By Jeanette Smith
WTOP: Judge Rules Minnesota Sex Offender Program Unconstitutional
Photo courtesy of:
Doug Wallick’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License