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Changes are gonna come slowly for MSOP p4

We are finishing up our discussion of the follow-up to the court decision declaring the Minnesota Sex Offender Program unconstitutional. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank found the program seriously wanting in almost every way. The opinion ended with an order for the parties and major stakeholders (Gov. Mark Dayton, for example) to submit to the court their recommendations for how to turn the program around. Frank will make his decision following a Sept. 30 hearing.

The civil commitment process that sends offenders to MSOP after they have served their prison sentences is particularly troubling, Frank said. And, as we said in our Aug. 28 post, just the fact that no one has been discharged from the program since 1994 is a sign that MSOP is an epic failure.

To date, the state has failed to offer its recommendations. The plaintiffs, however, all of whom are ex-offenders now confined to one of MSOP's two secured facilities, have completed their list. Among the proposals are

  • Conducting an independent risk evaluation of every MSOP client by the end of 2015. The goal of the evaluations is to determine whether clients should remain in the secured facility, whether they should be transferred to a less restrictive facility or whether they should be discharged.
  • Requiring annual evaluations for every MSOP client.
  • Developing an appeal process that will allow clients to petition the court to change the terms of the commitment or even to petition for release from the program.
  • Revising the civil commitment process and policies.
  • Replacing the existing secure facilities with new facilities that would accommodate different levels of treatment for clients.

It is clear to everyone that there are costs associated with all of the proposals. The state will have to provide estimates, but, from the tone of Frank's opinion, it's hard to say whether the costs will matter. Frnak's bottom line is to reshape the state's sex offender treatment program into something that will be fair to the offenders, the victims, and the families of both.

Sources:

TwinCities.com, "Attorneys for Minnesota's confined sex offenders propose program changes," Tom Olsen, Aug. 19, 2015

Karsjens v. Jesson, No. CIV. 11-3659 DWF/JJK, 2015 WL 3755870 (D. Minn. June 17, 2015), via WestlawNext

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Christa Jacqueline Groshek
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