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Juvenile Sex Offenders Given New Option in Dakota County

Juvenile Sex Offenders Given New Option in Dakota County

Low-risk juveniles who have committed sex crimes in Minnesota are usually ordered to complete a one year long program meant for high-risk offenders if they do not successfully complete an outpatient treatment program. However, low-risk juvenile sex offenders in Dakota County are being offered a different option.

Dakota County may soon be ordering low-risk juvenile sex offenders who do not complete their outpatient program to spend between 60 to 90 days in a detention program. The new program is expected to start in March and will save the county around $140,000. The program may also produce revenue for the county when it offers the program to other Minnesota juvenile offenders outside of Dakota County. The program has been lauded by a University of Minnesota assistant professor of sociology for smartly using criminal system resources and for acknowledging that levels of punishment for a sex offense can be tailored to the seriousness of the crime.

Since 2005 Dakota County has seen 216 juveniles put on probation for sex crimes. Eighty percent of those 216 juveniles successfully completed the outpatient treatment program. The other 20 percent either failed the outpatient treatment program or were identified as having a high risk to offend again and needed the yearlong high-risk program. County officials wanted to create an option in services that would not send low-risk juvenile sex offenders to a year long program designed for high-risk sex offenders.

Every year Dakota County gets 36 new juvenile sex offender cases. Sixty percent of those cases involved an offender who is age 14 or younger, and 40 percent of that group has committed an offense against a sibling or relative. The deputy director for community corrections in Dakota County attributes behavioral problems as the main reason why juveniles do not complete the outpatient treatment program.

Source: Pioneer Press, “Dakota County Seeks a Middle Ground for Young Sex Offenders,” Maricella Miranda, 11/27/10

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