This blog has previously talked about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and its uncertain future. Since its founding, it has only ever released one person. Many of the current people who have been civilly committed to the program expect to be there for the rest of their lives, which can be very detrimental to their mental health. For one man, his civil committment for two sex crimes appears to have led to his suicide, the first one recorded at the sex offender facility.
It has not been, however, the first case of self-inflicted injuries at the facility. This year alone there have been six cases of self-inflicted injuries, according to the Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner. If you ask the offenders, they will tell you that the numbers are much higher. Some report seeing a few people trying to take their lives every week.
One man in the program has said that many people were deeply affected by the federal lawsuit that challenged the program. The courts had put together a group dedicated to improving the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and there had been considerable discussion of what to do. Eventually, however, the legislature never took action and the people in the program were left emotionally drained.
There is still some hope, however, as the lawsuit is still active, yet that does not mean that the threat of lifelong committment in the program is not weighing heavily on the minds of people convicted of sex crimes. Only time will tell how the program will change.
Source: Minnesota Public Radio, “Minn. reports first-ever suicide at sex offender facility,” Rupa Shenoy, Aug. 5, 2013