Changes are gonna come slowly for MSOP p3

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank has a fairly low opinion of how the Minnesota Sex Offender Program operates right now. In the June decision that declared the program unconstitutional, Frank noted that "there is something very wrong with this state's method of dealing with sex offenders."

Later in the opinion, he listed a number of areas of concern and informed the state and the plaintiffs that he expected them to present their recommendations prior to a Sept. 30 hearing. At that hearing, Frank will hear arguments from both sides in order to determine a course of action.

Frank will not rely entirely on the parties' recommendations, however. The opinion included a long list of suggested remedies that included both immediate actions and ongoing program changes. For example:

  • Guaranteeing MSOP clients periodic risk assessments conducted by an outside vendor. These assessments would determine if each client met the civil commitment criteria and was in the appropriate treatment phase.
  • Amending the statutory standards for commitment and discharge to ensure they are identical.
  • Developing and implementing a process for judicial bypass.
  • Requiring the statutory standards for discharge and commitment be the same.
  • Mandating that external experts review and evaluate the MSOP treatment program on an ongoing basis, especially with regard to phase progression.

When the parties met earlier in August, the state had not prepared its recommendations, but the plaintiffs had. The 18 recommendations are in many ways similar to Frank's, but they are not necessarily identical.

We'll review those recommendations and wrap this up in our next post.

Sources:, "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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