Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Senators say changes are needed to sex offender program

Author:

Some Minnesota lawmakers are searching for answers about what to do with the state's endangered sex offender treatment program.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee met on Monday in St. Paul. The committee's chairman Sen. Ron Latz said if lawmakers don't reform the program a judge could do it for them.

Latz urged lawmakers to take quick action to avoid a judge finding the program unconstitutional. The Associated Press reports that other lawmakers also said such a ruling could result in the sudden release of sex offenders the state has kept in custody because of concerns those individuals still represent a threat to re-offend.

At issue, is the state's civil commitment law. It allows the state to continue to hold offenders, even though they have completed court-ordered prison sentences and treatment. Shortly before an offender is to have completed their sentence, Minnesota law allows for a judge to order the offender held in a facility that is aimed at rehabilitating them.

Some offenders allege that confinement violates their constitutional rights because it amounts to a de-facto life sentence. During the sex offender program's 19-year history, only one offender has been released.

State senators on the Judiciary Committee are delving into the details and history of the state's practice of indefinitely holding sex offenders – currently, nearly 700 of them – locked at two facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that an offenders' challenge to Minnesota's sex offender program could move forward as a class action suit.

The program has been in the news because of the recent hot-button case of Thomas Duvall. Duvall, 58, is accused of attacking at least 60 women and was convicted of raping a 17-year-old Brooklyn Park girl at knifepoint in 1987. A special state review board in August determined that Duvall had shown enough progress in treatment to have earned a recommendation to a panel of judges that he receive a provisional release. The judges are scheduled to review the case in April.

But Attorney General Lori Swanson objected. Gov. Mark Dayton has directed the state Department of Human Services to oppose any future recommendations that sex offenders be released, at least for now. Dayton ordered lawmakers to seek solutions.

The state Senate panel is meeting at the Capitol in St. Paul Monday morning.

Meanwhile, a state panel that has been examining the issue is planning next month to recommend dramatic changes to the program, including the provisional release of some offenders.

Next Up

unsplash cold winter breath dark

Hello, winter: List of the coldest wind chills in MN Monday morning

The state went from a relatively mild start of the season, to downright frigid wind chills.

deer

1 CWD-positive deer in Brainerd Lakes area, so surveillance will continue

The CWD monitoring measures were supposed to end after this year.

unsplash - visitor patient doctor hospital emergency - crop

MN program will train, hire 1,000 nursing assistants for long-term care

The facilities are facing a severe staffing shortage.

Minnesota State Fair - main gate day 2021

Minnesota State Fair reestablishes a police department

The fair had been contracting with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

teacher, covid, masks, school

Minnetonka to consider removing middle school mask requirement

The school board has been impressed by vaccination rates among middle school students.

snow, plow

Friday winter storm could hit Twin Cities, southern Minnesota

Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard is already monitoring the forecast.

Sauk Rapids Middle School street view, Minnesota - November 2018_

Teen student arrested for threats toward MN middle school

The Sauk Rapids middle school and high school were closed Monday.

_DSC0318

Rally for trans child outed during Hastings school board race draws big crowd

Hastings has been in the spotlight since the child's family was featured in a CNN story.

chad davis arradondo flickr

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo to retire next month

He's overseen the MPD since mid-2017, following the killing of Justine Ruszczyk Damond

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, December 6

The latest from the state health department.

2560px-Foo_Fighters_-_Southside_Festival_2019_4184_-_1

'Minneapolis, we're coming!!!': Foo Fighters announce rescheduled concert

The previously announced Huntington Bank Stadium was cancelled.

Related