Reform of state's sex offender program takes political hit

  • Article by: Editorial Board , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 16, 2013 - 4:14 PM

If state can’t find a solution, federal courts will likely step in.

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alansonNov. 16, 13 2:16 PM

The fecklessness of our state government extends beyond the legislature and the executive to the judiciary. Minnesota's constitution has a bill of rights that is at least as expansive as the Federal bill or rights. Yet throughout this controversy there has been no indication that our courts will do the right thing and uphold the right of citizens in this state to not be permanently imprisoned without due process of law.

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owatonnabillNov. 16, 13 7:19 PM

"On Wednesday, it became increasingly clear that the state of Minnesota is unable to uphold the U.S. Constitution on its own. Instead, state government appears ready to hand off that fundamental duty to a federal judge" ................ No one really expected anything else, did they? The ONLY safe course for any politician to take on this is to bluster and rail about how these monsters need to be banished to the Black Hole of Calcutta or something similar. No politician is going to risk votes actually trying to find a fair and rational way to address this problem.

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Jakein08Nov. 17, 13 8:00 AM

You are spot on owatonnabill. That is why MN has the most civilly committed sex offenders per capita of any state in America. The cost is about 5 times what it costs to incarcerate a prisoner.

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furguson11Nov. 17, 13 8:16 AM

The federal court will take this over and in the short term MN DHS will find itself releasing sex offenders to a NIMBY community and trying to figure out how to supervise them. As with the state hospitals, as the population in MSOP declines daily cost per patient will rise because it will become inefficient. What the legislature needs to do is start emptying the prisons of less serious drug offenders (public health can deal with this) and keep predatory sex offenders inside with treatment at a third of the cost of MSOP (a corrections model).Then when sex offenders would get released they would be under the supervision of Parole Officers, not social workers, perfectly appropriate for a offenders with a history of predatory offense.

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sundialNov. 17, 1310:50 AM

Neither the governor nor the legislature have the spine to step up and resolve the issue. It is a political hot potato. And while handing it off to the judiciary may be the default position, at least the politicians can campaign on the premise that their hands are clean when it comes to the release of predators.

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gaelrayNov. 17, 1311:21 AM

Leaving aside my concerns about the conclusions and facts in your various opinion pieces about this issue I encourage you to look at some of the issue in detail. For example what is the history of the other states with similar laws in place, specifically, have they been challenged in federal court and what was the outcome? While the U.S. District Court Judge and Referee have the case pending and could rule that the current Minnesota situation is not constitutional what is the history of this issue in the Court of Appeals and the U. S. Supreme Court, that is what is the likelihood that the District Court would be upheld? You refer to Minnesota having more committed offenders that other states with similar laws, of more importance is the number of commitments related to the number of convictions and the sentence that is imposed. Minnesota consistently ranks near or at the bottom for numbers sentenced to prison, if we had a history of sentencing more to prison and for longer periods we would not have to rely on commitment, also many states have indeterminate sentences so that they can evaluate offenders prior to release from prison, Minnesota has determinate sentencing, thus is forced to release offenders from prison, regardless of success or treatment in treatment. It also would be interesting to review what the Chief Justice said about the law during his time on the bench. There are other issues that need review but enough for today.

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