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Lawsuit that challenges Minnesota's sex offender program goes to trial Monday

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A class-action lawsuit goes to trial Monday that could determine the future of Minnesota's controversial sex offender program.

A group of the more than 700 civilly committed sex offenders have sued the state alleging that it is unconstitutional to keep them locked up indefinitely as part of the Minnesota Sex Offender Treatment Program (MSOP).

The people in the program are not prisoners. They have completed their prison sentences and in most cases have been civilly committed to receive treatment at one of the two MSOP facilities in Moose Lake or St. Peter for an undetermined amount of time.

In the 20 years of the program, only three people have been released.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank has said the program is “clearly broken” and has urged Minnesota lawmakers to overhaul it, but that has yet to been done.

Northland's NewsCenter says some of the issues Judge Frank will consider in the first phase of the trial, which begins Monday in St. Paul, are:

  • If the program is constitutionally legal.
  • If the treatment provided at the facilities complies with court orders.
  • If less restrictive alternatives should be imposed.

In second phase of the trail, Frank will consider if confining sex offenders imposes unconstitutional restrictions on freedom of speech and religion; unconstitutional search and seizure; and breach of contract, the news station reports.

The trial is expected to last over a month.

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