A state panel has approved the conditional release of a man who has spent more than 20 years in Minnesota's sex offender program.
The panel appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court authorized the provisional discharge and Robert Jeno is expected to move into a group home in Le Center later this month, the Associated Press reports.
The provisions designed to protect the public will keep Jeno under constant GPS monitoring and will place alarms on his windows, among other requirements, the AP says.
According to one legal expert, the decision by the state Department of Human Services not to fight Jeno's release represents a "significant change in policy" for Minnesota.
Eric Janus, dean of William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, tells the Star Tribune: “This demonstrates that the agency is committed to identifying sex offenders who can be placed within the community.”
Moving offenders back into the community has been nearly unheard of during the first 20 years of the sex offender program. The Star Tribune says it's happened only two other times, although the AP says only one provisional release was successful.
A new direction within the program might help the state defend it against criticisms including a class action lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Offenders who filed the suit claim they're getting no real treatment and the program functions as a way to keep them locked up indefinitely after they've served their prison terms.
Jeno, 50, has spent 22 years in treatment after serving 11 years in prison for crimes committed while he was a teenager, the Star Tribune says.
FOX 9 reports Le Center police have scheduled a community notification hearing for Dec. 16 to discuss Jeno's release to a group home. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said in a statement "...he will continue to be supervised by MSOP (Minnesota Sex Offender Program) through measures including face-to-face visits, GPS monitoring and random surveillance to protect public safety."