Inaction on sex offender program could result in 'more forceful solution,' judge says


State officials tasked with making reforms to the criticized Minnesota Sex Offender Program need to start taking action, or the federal judge overseeing the case could intervene.

The Star Tribune reports Judge Donovan Frank, who ruled the state's sex offender treatment program unconstitutional, issued an order Wednesday saying officials have until Sept. 21 to file proposed fixes.

There's a hearing on those proposals nine days later.

If state officials don't come up with a sufficient plan to address the constitutional violations, Frank wrote that "failure may demand a more forceful solution," the Duluth news Tribune reports.

The judge also noted that claiming there's not enough money to pay for reforms isn't an acceptable defense.

MPR News reports Dayton's office said Wednesday the governor is looking over the latest order from Frank.

Frank's June ruling, in which he wrote "there is something very wrong" with the program, stemmed from a lawsuit filed by confined offenders – all of whom have completed their prison sentence.

They argued the program locks people up indefinitely with little-to-no chance at getting out. In fact, only three have been provisionally released in the 20 years it has been running. None have been fully released.

As of July 1, the Department of Human Services said there were 720 offenders in the program.

On Monday, Frank, Gov. Mark Dayton, and some of the Minnesota's leading legislators held a closed-door meeting to discuss potential solutions.

Neither the public nor media were allowed in, but reports indicate no plan of action was agreed upon.

Afterward, Dayton mentioned a couple of possibilities, but noted they would cost the state millions of dollars each year. In addition, whether those changes would be sufficient for Frank isn't known.

According to MPR News, Rep. Kurt Daudt, the House speaker, told reporters the legal process would need to play out before the legislature can take action.

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