Minnesota's sex offenders -- dealing with the worst in a better way

  • Article by: D.J. TICE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 23, 2012 - 7:58 PM
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thunderJan. 23, 12 8:24 PM

Cornish needs to take a look at research and follow the data. Longer prison sentences are not effective, will raise costs significantly as our over crowded prisons lead to new facilities and locking people up to ease fears is not solid policy. As a side note, Cornish now wants to allow attorneys to carry weapons in the court. Why allow more weapons into courthouses? Untrained persons with guns and the potential loss of those guns to persons wishing to do harm. Probation and Parole Officers in the field cannot carry weapons when they see these same offenders. Law enforcement is present in most court hearings but the police are not available on a regular basis to the agents supervising these offenders in the community. Go figure!

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createdequalJan. 23, 1211:44 PM

Excuse me, Thunder. Long prison sentences are very effective at protecting the public from convicted sex offenders. What will you do if one attacks your mother or daughter -- hold up your research and statistics and order him to stop?

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chavistaJan. 24, 12 5:38 AM

Excuse me, createdequal, but long sentences may not be effective. Currently a second degree murderer can expect a maximum sentence of about 28 years. With time off for good behavior, that's a little over 17 years that they're off the streets. Now, the courts are not going to accept 70 - 80 year, or life sentences for sexual offenders since murder is considered the most heinous crime imaginable. Maybe the courts will accept 15 or 20 years for this crime which means they will be out in 10 to 12 years. When they get out they will have had no treatment meaning they will be unsupervised, frustrated, angry, and ready to immediately re-offend. At least with treatment and civil commitment there is a chance that some of them can be released back into society with supervision and not re-offend. The truly sick and untreatable will remain under control for the rest of their life.

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thunderJan. 24, 12 6:15 AM

Do we continue to make bad investments or start doing what works best? The reoffense rates for sex offenders is much lower than other crimes of violence and many other non-violent crimes. Treatment is effective and underutilized as longer and costly prison sentences become the norm. Why, if sex offenders recidivate at a much lower rate, are more closely supervised in the community, required to register and have access to community based treatment, are we locking them up longer? Because people are disgusted at the crime and find the offender repulsive? My daughter and mother, wife for that matter, are more likely to be hit by a drunk driver, are they next for life sentences? We lock up a first time low level sex offender for 144 months, serve 8 years and most DWI offenders don't get locked up beyond 6 months until they have a 3rd or 4th offense. Prison is a last resort for a DWI offender, a group the reoffends at a much high rate and the first option for a person convicted of a sex crime who is less likely to reoffend. Disgusted or not which would make the public safer?

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thunderJan. 24, 12 6:19 AM

Another point that I am trying to make is that we need to stop spending money on ineffective practices across the board. Utilize cost effective measures and enact practices that are evidence based. Let's do what works and stop doing what doesn't.

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owatonnabillJan. 24, 12 7:02 AM

One of the problems attendant to this issue is that the statistics not only vary greatly according to group, but have varying degrees of reliability. Studies have shown that child sexual abuse is greatly under-reported: for exampl CSOM (Center for Sex Offender Management) concluded in a 2001 study that only 32% of sexual abuse of children OVER 12 is even reported, let alone litigated. This abuse is in an age-group where one might assume that abuse is recognized as abuse: oftentimes in very young children the situations are not reported simply because the child doesn't understand that something prohibited is happening. Another complicating factor is the gender of both the perp and the victim: Males who sexually abuse females, and females who sexually abuse children of any gender, recidivate the least. Men (particularly younger men) who abuse male children recidivate at the highest rate.

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furguson11Jan. 24, 12 7:13 AM

I'm concerned about the state looking for a way to shift the cost of the system they created to local government. Any solution that shifts costs is going to look good to them. When the (very expensive) State Hospitals were closed, the clients were supposed to have an array of community options. That never happened and we have this group of disabled adults in our communities with MH and CD issues. MSOP is essentially a State Hospital and history is about to repeat.

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furguson11Jan. 24, 12 7:19 AM

The Adam Walsh Act is still hanging out there also. MN is currently under a penalty (loss of a percentage of federal funding) for not reporting the locations of all sex offenders online. We publicly release the locations of only about 400, there are currently 15-20,000 on the predatory offender list. This is an issue like releasing criminal records to the public, will the release of this information effect the employment and rehabilitation options for offenders? How will local public officials respond to this information? Like criminal records, I say open it up. Then we can see the true scope of the issue and have a real discussion instead of picking winners and losers.

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oleyellowhaiJan. 24, 12 7:22 AM

I happen to agree with Thunder. He has alot of credibility where I stand. The recidivism rate for sex offenders is lowest, treatment can work, and we should look for all options. It is apparent to many that we do not want sex offenders roaming our communities without being watched by big brother, this may be why the recidivism rate is lowest. The law is the law. To give sex offenders longer sentences may help in the long run but we must realize it does not affect those already "incarcerated" at MSOP. We need to understand that if MSOP does not release someone and soon, we the state of Minnesota is open to lawsuits. To keep someone "locked up" civilally for the duration of his/her life is unconstitutional. I don't presume to know the answer but I am glad the discussion is finally happening.

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suziecueJan. 24, 12 7:46 AM

The problem is that liberals think that sexual predators can be rehabilitated and deserve another chance. That is the only problem.

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