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Trial questioning constitutionality of Minnesota's Sex Offender Program to begin next month

Last month, a 50-year-old Minnesota man learned he will be released from the secured facility which he has called home for the last 22 years. While still a teenager, the now 50-year-old man was convicted of "sexually assaulting two women" and was committed to Minnesota's Sex Offender Program.

A sex offender who has completed his or her prison sentence may subsequently be civilly committed to the MSOP. A judge may order that an individual be committed to the MSOP if he or she is deemed to be a "sexually dangerous person" or have a "sexually psychopathic personality." The court-ordered civil commitment to the program is for an indefinite amount of time and those committed live at one of two secured residential treatment centers in the state.

While officials tout the MSOP as a rehabilitative program where convicted sex offenders receive counseling and undergo therapies with a goal of rehabilitation, the conditional release of the 50-year-old man is just the third such release since the program began 20 years ago. The program's abysmal conditional release record has drawn criticism from many who contend the program is a failure and may even be operating in a manner that is unconstitutional.

Questions surrounding the constitutionality of the MSOP are currently at the center of a class action lawsuit and a trial that is set to begin in February. To date, state lawmakers have failed to address matters related to the highly controversial topic of sex offender rehabilitation and release. For now, it appears as though the future of the MSOP and the state’s treatment of convicted sex offenders who are considered a threat to public safety will be decided by the federal judge overseeing the case.

We'll continue to provide updates about this issue and the state of the MSOP as the trial begins next month.  

Source: MinnPost, "Pressure mounting on legislators to fix Minnesota sex offender program," Briana Beirschbach, Dec. 19, 2014

Star Tribune, "Rapist granted release from Minnesota sex offender program," Chris Serres, Dec. 5, 2014

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