Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Judge Promises 'More Forceful Solution' If Lawmakers Don't Reform Minnesota Sex Offender Program

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Judge Promises 'More Forceful Solution' If Lawmakers Don't Reform Minnesota Sex Offender Program

Article excerpt

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank is getting used to issuing strongly worded orders.

In February 2014, he warned lawmakers that he thought the state's sex offender treatment program was "draconian" and very likely violated the constitutional rights of its clients, who receive treatment but rarely get out of the razor-wire facility. In an order this June, he went one step further, declaring the program unconstitutional and ordering lawmakers into his courtroom to find a solution.

Lawmakers met behind closed doors in Frank's chambers Monday, but emerged with nothing settled and little agreement on how to fix the program. On Wednesday, Frank issued yet another sharp-tongued order, threatening a "more forceful solution" if state leaders fail to come up with their own reforms.

"Recognizing the history of the state's failure to meet minimum constitutional requirements, as well as the continuing injury and harm resulting from these serious violations, the Court notes that, at some point, if the state proves unwilling or incapable of remedying the constitutional violations, to which insufficient funding is not a defense, that failure may demand a more forceful solution," Frank wrote in the Aug. 12 order. "Any delay by the state to prepare for the inevitable relief to be imposed by the Court in light of the previously determined constitutional violations would only increase the risk to public safety."

Frank has ordered lawmakers back to his courtroom on Sept. 30 to propose fixes to the program.

Minnesota civilly commits more than 700 offenders to the state's sex offender treatment program, at prison-like campuses in Moose Lake and St. Peter. Most offenders there have completed their prison sentence but were deemed "sexually dangerous" upon release and sent indefinitely to the program for treatment. …

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