There are two sides to the issue of releasing a sex offender who has completed his or her sentencing, programming, and treatment and is up for review to be released. One side is to respect the constitutional rights of the prisoner by ensuring there is a review hearing to consider possible release at the end of the prison sentence and treatment period. The other side is to ensure that the former offender will not be a danger to the public. Measuring the two considerations, a recent sexual offender review hearing heard the offender and the victim of a past sex crime.
Last Friday, a 69-year-old convicted sex offender attended a review hearing regarding his possible release from a psychiatric hospital to a halfway house located in the Twin Cities. The former sex offender and his attorney presented their case to a panel of three women judges and argued that the 69-year-old is no longer a danger to the public. The former offender also admitted that he still has problems with his sexual feelings and in the past he had harmed a lot of people. The man remembers hurting around 94 people and one of his victims was there to confront him at the hearing.
One of the offender’s victims, a 58-year-old man, testified to the panel about an offense that occurred at the man’s house in Wisconsin in 1975. Brandishing a shotgun, the offender tied up the man and his wife in their home and covered their heads with pillowcases. Then the offender unmasked the wife and raped her. Afterward he performed oral sex on the husband. Later, the couple discovered they were pregnant and decided to abort the baby.
Every year the Minnesota sex offender treatment program takes on 50 new people. Currently, about 600 hundred offenders are in the program and the 69-year-old man’s potential release would be the second in the program’s history. The program is being asked to take on more and more offenders while the state of Minnesota tries to handle a $5 billion deficit. Raising a constitutional law problem with the civil commitment program, some criminal defense and constitutional law attorneys point to a sex offender treatment program that is not inclined to release participants. The testimony of the offender summarizes the conflux of petitioner and treatment program issues, “What can I say? I’m a work in progress.”
Source: ABC News, “Minnesota sex offender asks judges for release,” Steve Karnowski, 3/4/11