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Does Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program Need Reform?

Does Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program Need Reform?

Felony conviction of a sex crime in the state of Minnesota can result in significant consequences, and criminal defense attorneys in MN often disagree about the severity of punishment some offenders could receive. Convicted sex offenders often face considerable fines and serve extensive jail or prison time. A felony conviction of a sex crime can land an offender in prison for approximately 12 years, and a first-degree felony conviction of a sex crime can mean up to 30 years in prison and a whopping $40,000 in fines. In addition to extensive fines and prison time, many convicted offenders are required to enter into the Minnesota Sex Offender Program- a program that has been declared unconstitutional and is badly in need of reform.

Under Minnesota’s 21-year-old Sex Offender Program, convicted offenders who are determined to be “highly likely to re-offend” can be required to spend time behind a razor-wire fence as they undergo “treatment” at one of the state’s mental hospitals, even after serving their prison sentence. The MSOP currently affects approximately 700 convicted sex offenders in the state of Minnesota.

Reasons for Reform: The MSOP

The MSOP has undergone a significant amount of scrutiny from offenders, attorneys, top officials and lawmakers for a variety of reasons.

  • The program has failed to implement facilities that offer varying levels of security.
  • The program does not offer facilities that are equipped to provide varying levels of treatment.
  • Procedures to move forward through the phases of the program are often unclear.
  • The program has not released any offender unconditionally in approximately 20 years.
  • It has been declared by U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank that it is unconstitutional to imprison citizens “because we fear they might commit a crime in the future”.
  • Risk assessments to determine eligibility for release or transfer are not adequate.
  • In 2011, patients residing at the current facilities filed a class action lawsuit claiming that the MSOP was simply a prison sentence with no set expiration date.

While Judge Donovan Frank has determined that the program is in need of a major overhaul, and has specified a number of changes that need to be made by the state, a timeline for the program’s reform is not clear.

It is imperative that individuals who are facing conviction of felony sex crimes contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in MN in order to prevent falling victim to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

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