Attorneys list 18 changes they want made to MN's embattled sex offender program

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Attorneys representing more than 700 sex offenders have proposed a series of sweeping changes to Minnesota's controversial Sex Offender Program (MSOP).

The Associated Press reports the offenders' attorneys filed a list Wednesday proposing several steps to improving the program, which in June was ruled "unconstitutional" by a U.S. District Judge who demanded state leaders implement urgent reforms.

The main criticism of the program is that offenders are civilly committed to its secure treatment facilities (the main ones being in Moose Lake and St. Peter) without much hope of ever being released – only 4 people have secured a provisional, heavily-supervised release in its history.

One of the issues attorneys want to see addressed is the fact that patients in the treatment centers rarely have their cases reviewed to see whether they are suitable for partial, or full release, the Pioneer Press reports.

The attorneys made 18 proposals, which include:

  • The MSOP conduct risk evaluations for all residents by the end of the year to see whether they should still be committed, or whether they should be discharged or moved to a lower security facility.
  • Annual evaluations for every offender.
  • The opportunity for individuals to petition the court for release or a reduction in custody.
  • The closure of the two existing facilities and the development of new facilities to handle offenders who need "varying levels of treatment and security."

Gov. Mark Dayton, who has taken issue with Judge Donovan Frank's ruling that MSOP is unconstitutional, earlier this month put forward a proposal to introduce evaluations of sex offenders once every two years, and the building of new, supervised community facilities for them,

His proposal would need legislative approval and would cost $15 million-a-year to run the new facilities, and a further $7 million-a-year to carry out the evaluations, the Star Tribune reports.

Dayton suggestions come even though he's signaled an intent to appeal Frank's ruling.

According to the Northland News Center, the attorneys argue that the state has refused to put forward a suitable framework to fix the problems with the program, and so the courts should intervene and impose the changes.

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