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Changes are gonna come slowly for MSOP

We did not mention it in our June 20 post, but the federal court opinion that found the Minnesota Sex Offender Program unconstitutional is 37 pages long. Even if it is an interesting read, the length may have surprised some: The judge, the Hon. Donovan Frank, made it clear that the findings and conclusions of law included in the opinion did not address the issues presented by the plaintiffs -- that is, it did not solve the problems MSOP has created for the men and women in the program. Determining that MSOP is unconstitutional just cleared the way for real reform.

The opinion does list more than a dozen potential remedies, but the list is just a start. The real work, Frank wrote, would be accomplished by the attorneys for the detainees and state officials during the remedies phase of the case.

Earlier this month, the parties met with Frank to discuss proposed changes to MSOP. The judge's objective is to have a full proposal, with law changes and budget considerations, ready for the 2016 legislative session. While plaintiffs' attorneys claim the state has dragged its feet complying with Frank's court order, the meeting produced a 30-page memorandum from plaintiffs detailing 18 specific program reforms. The state must submit its own proposals by Sept. 30.

Before we discuss the reforms, let's review how MSOP works -- or, for that matter, doesn't work. It's important to remember that the program is designed for individuals who have committed a sex crime, but it is not a substitute for prison or jail. And while the program serves convicted sex offenders, the Department of Corrections does not manage MSOP. The Department of Human Services does, because, ostensibly, the program's objective is to guide the offenders through a treatment program that will help them re-enter society.

We'll continue this in our next post.

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

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