The Minnesota Sex Offender Program: What to know about today's meeting

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Monday morning, a conference that could help determine the future of the beleaguered Minnesota Sex Offender Program will take place in federal court.

Here's a brief explanation about why it's happening, and how we got to this point.

What's the meeting for?

At the meeting, Gov. Mark Dayton, Judge Donovan Frank, Attorney General Lori Swanson, Republican and DFL lawmakers and others will discuss possible ways to fix the sex offender program – the state's system for treating offenders deemed in need of further treatment.

Why is the meeting being held?

There's a long, winding backstory to all of this, but basically, the state's sex offender program was ruled unconstitutional in June, after a lawsuit was filed by the more than 700 offenders currently confined in the program. They argued the program was unconstitutional.

And Frank, in the June ruling, agreed.

Monday's conference is a direct result of that ruling, and former Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, who led the calls for the program's reform, will oversee the potential changes.

Dayton, even after the program was ruled unconstitutional, continued to defend the program.

And what's unconstitutional about it?

Frank ruled the program is unconstitutional because it keeps offenders who completed their prison sentence locked up indefinitely, with little empirical evidence they have the chance to get out.

In fact, of the hundreds of offenders confined to the two facilities (in Moose Lake and St. Peter), only three have been provisionally released in the 20 years it has been running. None have been fully released.

OK, so this meeting: Can I go and weigh in?

No, it's not open to the public. Nor is it open to media organizations, despite a request from the Star Tribune, The Associated Press, New York Times and other outlets arguing it should be.

Frank said the closed conference will allow for freer discussions, and noted there won't be a final decision made Monday. Participants are allowed to talk about it publicly afterward, however.

What comes next?

Probably a lot more talking.

The Associated Press notes the discussions, part of a "remedy phase," could continue for weeks or months, unless a settlement is reached at some point. It also notes the eventual ruling could pave the way for programs in other states to be challenged.

Have they tried to make changes before?

Minnesota’s legal leaders, including Magnuson and Frank, have over the past two years urged state lawmakers to restructure the program.

But the reforms haven't come, with state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson previously saying her department had started making changes, but full reforms are proving difficult because of a lack of funding.

The Associated Press reports Dayton proposed a measure in the latest budget bill to at least begin addressing the judge's concerns, but it got pushed aside during negotiations late in the budget process.

Critics have also pointed to the financial cost to running the program in its current form, with FOX 9 previously reporting it costs the state $73 million per year.

Next Up

Ricky Rubio

Report: Timberwolves trade Ricky Rubio to Cleveland

Rubio's homecoming in Minnesota lasted just one season.

Tim Walz - YouTube - Screengrab

Gov. Walz: Newly-vaccinated Minnesotans will get $100

The incentive was announced shortly after President Biden announced the initiative.

Flickr - USPS post office mail truck - Paul Sableman

Man who attacked Oakdale postal worker gets 18 months in prison

He was accused of hopping over the counter and repeatedly punching the employee.

Wikimedia COmmons - Sierra store - Steve Morgan

Off-price retail store Sierra will open a St. Cloud location

It is the brand's first Minnesota store outside the Twin Cities.

Motzko and Schuneman

Driver in crash that killed Motzko, Schundeman released from custody

Authorities say he was driving during the crash that killed Sam Schuneman and Mack Motzko.

Dentist

Dental practice fired manager because she was too old, investigation finds

The business has agreed to a $54,000 settlement with the employee.

Ryan Suter

Suter says goodbye to Minnesota in Players Tribune piece

As Suter heads for Dallas, the Wild revamp their blue line.

vaccine, covid

Gov. Walz launches 'Vax to School' campaign ahead of new year

The state is encouraging students aged 12-17 to get vaccinated before school starts.

Justin Jefferson

Coller: Justin Jefferson isn't the sophomore slump type

Matthew Coller writes a weekly column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider. He also hosts a weekly Vikings livestream on BMTN's YouTube and Facebook.

storm damage

State of Emergency in Wisconsin as daylight reveals massive storm damage

A tornado may have directly hit a farmstead, causing destruction.

Facebook - Line 3 frac out July 27 photo - Ron Turney

MPCA acknowledges 8 more drilling fluid releases during Line 3 work

That includes at least one fluid release into wetlands, which is a violation.

Related