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Minnesota sex offender program needs more sentencing options

Minnesota sex offender program needs more sentencing options

In Minnesota, when someone is convicted of committing a sex crime and placed in the sex offender treatment program, they are held at the facility indefinitely. An independent task force appointed by the state recently came to the conclusion that significant changes to the program are necessary and will assist in the oversight of sex offenders.

Several hundred people are currently being housed in these centers, which are located in St. Peter and Moose Lake. Those who are opposed to the current structure of the program believe that it paints all of the offenders in these facilities with a broad brush, since people who are considered to be less violent still have the same restrictions as those who pose more of a security risk.

Assessing the program

A piece that was recently published in the Star Tribune highlights just how contentious this issue is. While some legislators are concerned about the potential impact this issue could have on their political careers, others believe that modifications to the program are needed. There are a number of reasons for lawmakers’ reform support, including the following:

  • Many people were committed for crimes as a juvenile
  • The large number of people who are confined
  • The program has become increasingly costly
  • Frustration with an all-or-nothing approach
  • The amount of time sex offenders spend in these facilities
  • A lack of intermittent judicial review 

The treatment program, which has been scrutinized in federal court, needs to be more thorough in the way it commits and discharges people, supporters say. In their report, the task force states that too many people are sent to the sex offender treatment program and they are kept in it for too long.

Recommended changes

Under the present guidelines, some lawmakers believe that additional sentencing options need to be put in place to address a number of issues with the current system. The state-appointed panel believes that political factors should not play such a significant role in the treatment of sex offenders and that judges and experts in the field should have more involvement in the process. Furthermore, the panel came to the conclusion that there should be more options for less violent offenders.

There are a number of different sexual offenses that people are accused of, such as promotion of prostitution and internet sex crimes. When people are facing criminal charges, they should meet with an experienced attorney for legal counsel.

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