The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is one of the most stringent and restrictive civil treatment programs in the country. With more than 605 “patients” in the program there are more sex offenders locked up per capita than any other state in the country. While technically considered patients, it is very clear that these formerly imprisoned sex offenders are not allowed to leave.
The program is so bad that an English court refused to extradite someone accused of sex crimes to Minnesota because the court believed the sex offender program violated international human rights laws. Even the Minnesota legislative auditor and the governor’s administration support a change to the program.
Now, a federal judge has also allowed the over 600 people who have filed lawsuits against the state for an indefinite detention in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program to consolidate into one federal class action lawsuit. Though the program was intended to be a way to ensure dangerous individuals were not released into society after completing a prison sentence, there are concerns that it is indefinite detention, something forbidden by the constitution.
The number of people confined in the program has grown drastically since 2003. That year, a particularly horrific rape and murder of a young woman caught the attention of the people of Minnesota. This prompted the then-governor to make it more difficult to leave the program.
It is unknown when this class action lawsuit will make its way to court, but it is believed that it will resolve many of the unanswered questions about the legality and constitutionality of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
Source: Star Tribune, “Minnesota sex-offender lawsuit takes step forward,” Mary Lynn Smith and Dave Hage, July 25, 2012