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Report: task force plans big changes to state sex offender program

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A state panel taking a closer look at Minnesota's sex offender treatment program reportedly has some big changes in mind.

The program involves offenders who have served their prison sentences. The Star Tribune reports the recommendations include setting up a new court to decide which offenders should be locked in the treatment program and when they might be released.

The newspaper says a draft of those recommendations also shows the panel wants to set a higher standard for who should be committed to the program and wants to put those decisions in the hands of experts in the field rather than county prosecutors and judges.

The state's existing sex offender program is the subject of a class action lawsuit, which claims the program is unconstitutional because it amounts to an open-ended prison sentence for those who have already served their time.

As part of that lawsuit, a magistrate last year ordered creation of the task force to come up with less restrictive ways to deal with the offenders. The Star Tribune says the recommendations are expected by December 1st.

Talks aimed at a settlement of the lawsuit broke down in August and Politics in Minnesota reported a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank is scheduled for Nov. 15.

A proposal by the Human Services Department to move six low-risk offenders from the program in Moose Lake to a facility in Cambridge has raised some concerns among residents of that city.

Here's the department's overview of the sex offender program.

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