Minnesota's sex-offender program needs reform

  • Article by: Editorial Board , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 4, 2013 - 7:35 PM

It was the public’s understandable fear of sex offenders that led 1990s Minnesota lawmakers to create the controversial state program that locks up these criminals for years, even decades, after they’ve served their sentences.

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coventryJun. 4, 13 8:00 PM

We will indeed find out whether the Federal Court is bluffing. My lawsuit is also calling for a Class Certification of all Judicial Hold Order Status Past, Present, Future. The Caption is Evenstad V HERBERG, et al, and DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson is a named Defendant as is MSOP Director Nancy Johnston. That covers all 700+ now. I lived in MSOP for two years. No one knows more about what this "Program" really is than I do. I have been arguing for a decade now that this Program is illegal and unconstitutional. The Average Risk Profile of an MSOP HosPrisoner is far less than the Level 3 on the Streets. I should know as the State of MN involuntarily detained me with these people for 10 years. Thank you, Thomas Evenstad, Esq. Innocent Man

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coventryJun. 4, 13 8:23 PM

I would add that this is an excellent article focusing on the real issues and properly take the Legislature to task for their poor choices that not only leave over 700 men and one woman truly Locked In Limbo but perhaps more importantly than the Sex Offenders the MNLEG chose to allocate $76 Million Dollars towards Unconstitutional Preventive Detention are the 1000's or 10s of 1000s of our MOST VULNERABLE NON SEX OFFENDER CITIZENS who depend no the State whether the poor, the mentally ill, homeless, Veterans, Suicide, Stem Cell all of these poor souls just asking MN for a little help to bring them up was DENIED and REJECTED by the lawmakers, and don't give Limmer, Liebling, Abeler so much credit. I offered them as well as the DHS myself as a FACT WITNESS to the outrageous illegality, unconstitutionality of the Program, and even a scintilla of the evidence I posses, knowledge that I have, and witnesses within the MSOP to call to prove every allegation I have ever made vs this Future Crime Prevention Program. A mass release of every HosPrisoner would give not one knowledgable citizen unrest once they are shown the FACT that the average Risk Profile on the DOC website of Level 3 in our Communities is FAR HIGHER than the average Low Risk Political OutState Victim Lori Swanson's AG's Office "Supports" per Ass't AG Matthew Frank. If anyone doubts my claim to be the Foremost EXPERT on MSOP, I respectfully challenge up to ANY 3 people in the world to debate me publicly alone. Thank U

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raleighmamaJun. 4, 1311:51 PM

It is important to point out that Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels has publically stated that he believe too many sex offenders live in north Minneapolis, and he wants to "Rid north Minneapolis of the undesirables," as quoted from a previous StarTribune article. It is this kind of discriminatory thinking that has made it next to impossible for ex-offenders to find housing and jobs in Minneapolis and concentrated them on the north. As these offenders are released from treatment programs we need to work with them to integrate them into our neighborhoods to assist them in being successful so they do not recidivate back into the court and prison system. Our elected officials should be the ones championing their success, not discriminating against them. Council Member Samuels, as a person of color should be sympathetic to discrimination.

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supervon2Jun. 5, 13 6:21 AM

I wonder if the judges would mind these same people living next door to them and their children and grandchildren. Are we here to protect society or just let everybody run free because they don't think they should be locked up>

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furguson11Jun. 5, 13 7:13 AM

"In-depth studies of the program, such as a 2011 report by the respected Office of the Legislative Auditor, and the work of a bipartisan task force led by former state Supreme Court Justice Eric Magnuson, have been invaluable in building the case for a network of alternative treatment centers." Community treatment centers are more expensive than the $300/day MSOP because of lack of scale and probably will not have near the capacity. It is a solution that will cost more money. Basically the sex offenders will be released when a court order provides cover for politicians or we run out of money to keep them locked up.

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owatonnabillJun. 5, 13 7:24 AM

"I wonder if the judges would mind these same people living next door to them and their children and grandchildren. Are we here to protect society or just let everybody run free because they don't think they should be locked up" ........................... One must consider the alternatives. Raleighmama points out that the current roadblocks regarding living and working situations in the community make it extremely difficult for offenders to make it on the outside, and this is true. Such roadblocks merely enable greater recidivism: if there is little or no hope, then the former offender has that much less to lose by re-offending. It is equally true that recidivism among sex offenders presents a danger to the community that must not be ignored. But this is not an all-or-nothing issue. Sex offenders do not all fit one mold: certain classes of offenders have very high recidivism rates while others have a very low rate, yet both groups can rate the "level 3" designation and this is all society looks at when outside placement is being considered. Owatonnabill rarely agrees with micromanagement of anything, but this is one area where every aspect must be carefully evaluated so that we are doing the best thing possible not only for the people who have paid their legal debt to society, but also for the members of that society that the former offender will again be having contact with. To expect our legislators to come up with answers that are more than just politically expedient is on the far end of unrealistic: most of them have very little understanding of the issue(s). Maybe a un-aligned task force, formulated to address and analyze the problem and compose recommendations for the legislature, and including experts, community members AND former offenders might be the ticket here? It would be a better course of action than depending on our finger-in-the-wind politicians, in any case.

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dakmarknetJun. 5, 13 9:02 AM

So continuing the same policies championed by the previous Republican legislature, the current Republican members now want to use their own policies against the Democrats. Wow, that's a stretch. Portray the Democrats as soft on crime when in fact they just continued the same programs as their predecessors. This ought to make for some really funny campaign ads.

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benleeJun. 5, 13 9:25 AM

Where is the treatment plan - the mental treatment plan for these offenders? Sex offenders often have the "addiction" personality. Now with the advent of the computer/iphone ipad personal electronics etc.. age these addictions have been ramped up to a whole new. A recent study shows 20% of all college age males are now addicted to computer porn. Without TREATMENT for these mental "addictions" things are bound only get worse. Locking up more and more people will not solve the problem, when treatment is needed. Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

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bannedmuggsJun. 5, 13 9:43 AM

From my experience, the state also needs to reform the all or nothing penalties are crazy. I had a client who's situation was very suspect due to the "victim's" story and he's showing up on background checks 20 years later. It was more than obvious that the "victim" and her boyfriend were lying but no county attorney or judge was letting any "sexual assault" go through because of the fear of being labeled. In our society today, if a so-called victim makes any sex crime type accusation, the accused is guilty until proven innocent. The media usually reports it and the person is done. A great example - the Mankato football coach situation. These political crimes have to stop. DUI is the other.

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xbud99Jun. 5, 13 1:43 PM

It's not surprising to me that politicians are passing the buck on this one. Behind closed doors they are in agreement that reform needs to take place, but in public they will not vote for reforms for fear of being soft on sex offenders. They are more than willing to allow the Federal Court to enact these same reforms they support, then they can decry the activist Judges, blame the Judges for these problems and still appear to be tough on sex offenders. It's a win-win for the politicians.

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