In January, we discussed the growing controversy over Minnesota’s handling of individuals who are convicted of sexual offenses and Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program. At that time, several convicted sex offenders who were confined to one of the state’s two sex offender treatment facilities, were about to have their day in court as they raised questions about the constitutionality of the MSOP.
Roughly 700 individuals are currently housed at the two state-run facilities. All came to call the facilities home after completing the terms of their sentences and being forced to go through an involuntary civil commitment process. A recent report by Minnesota Public Radio revealed that since the program’s inception in the “mid-1990s, only three people have been provisionally released.
Earlier this week, a federal judge sided with the plaintiffs in the case, ruling that the state’s sex offender program is unconstitutional. In his ruling, the judge cited statistics from the program which reveal that only three individuals have ever been released from the facilities and that even these individuals are still being supervised.
The judge’s ruling effectively calls upon state legislators to come up with a solution for how to improve how sex offenders are treated and supported upon release. Across the country, individuals who are convicted of sexual offenses are subjected to some of the most restrictive and punitive of all legal requirements. In Minnesota, individuals who are civilly committed to the MSOP have been indefinitely detained and punished.
The judge’s ruling was heralded by plaintiffs and their attorneys one of whom commented that “it reaffirms that all people…are entitled to constitutional protection.”