Recently, a conference was held at William Mitchell College of Law that discussed potential changes to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. Commissioner Lucinda Jesson of the Department of Human Services, the agency responsible for carrying out the program, as well as legislators from both parties attended. The state is currently facing serious issues in the treatment of sex offenders.
When someone is convicted of a serious sex crime in Minnesota, the offender may be held at one of two treatment facilities within the state after he or she has completed a prison term. There is no end date on the length of the confinement, and to date, no one who has been placed into the MSOP has ever been released.
While many present agreed that there are serious problems with the program that need to be addressed, there still is uncertainty on how best to move forward. Those who are critical of the current MSOP feel that it violates people’s civil rights due to the potentially never-ending confinement.
Officials from other states were on hand to discuss potential release options, which include the use of GPS tracking devices, frequent monitoring by law enforcement post-release, as well as the use of judges to determine if an offender can be removed from the program. Releasing offenders would help save costs and eliminate any constitutional concerns that might arise.
However, not everyone is in favor of releasing offenders from the program. One proposal at the conference would increase prison sentences substantially for those who have been convicted of more serious sex crimes.
Changes to the MSOP will be coming, but no one knows how or when. As various options are discussed and considered, it will be important to stay informed to understand the potential impact on those who are facing possible inclusion into the program.
Source: Star Tribune, “Minnesota’s sex offenders — dealing with the worst in a better way,” D.J. Tice, Jan. 23, 2012