Eighth Circuit decision opens path to continued constitutional challenge of MN sex offender program

By Chris Serres . . . A protracted case challenging the constitutionality of Minnesota’s system for treating sex offenders outside prison has gained new life after a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled that claims contesting the program’s unusual conditions of confinement can move forward.

In a decision released Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit determined that a review of allegations that clients of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) were subjected to improper punishment and inadequate treatment should proceed. The decision sets the stage for another pitched debate over the future of the program, which confines more than 730 men in prisonlike treatment centers long after their criminal sentences have ended.

The ruling comes nearly a decade after a group of civilly committed sex offenders sued the state, arguing during a six-week trial that Minnesota’s system violated their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution by depriving them of access to the courts and other basic safeguards found in the criminal justice system.

It also comes following unrest at the Moose Lake treatment center, where offenders recently went on a two-week hunger strike to protest their indefinite confinements and demand a clear path toward release into the community.

Some men have been held at the MSOP treatment centers for years or even decades after completing their prison terms — effectively turning the program into what critics say is a de facto life sentence.

Read the remainder of the piece here at the Star Tribune.

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    • #81024 Reply
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      Tim in WI

      93+ million,
      imagine what can be done with that kind of money!!!
      And that is only 1 year budget. Been going on for over two decades.
      No wonder advocacy in this context is slow moving.

    • #81078 Reply
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      Shaun in MN

      I have a friend who was civilly committed in 2017 after serving 30 yrs on a single charge. He himself holds that he deserved that time and he used it to the best of his ability. He completed treatment and conitunally sought to better himself. Finding every route to mend what was broke with him. When i was in treatment i srruggled with trusting anyone due to my life trauma and abuse suffered. He is the reason i am free, have a healthy relationship, am a good person, and law abiding. He showed me people genuinely care and i can trust people. He is a even better man then me hands down.
      Yet here i am free, as i earned, and he is committed. He is still learning everyday. His attitude is of gratitude and not anger when he calls. He greatful for what he has and hopeful for a 2nd chance. Yet his therapists tell him weekly to keep doing a great job and pray. Because no matter what he does its very unlikely the state will release him. Thats disgusting that your own care givers would have to say that. Some people dont deserve a third or 4th chance because they CHOOSE not to get better. Those that put the work in are redeemable and deserve that oppertunity.

    • #81225 Reply
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      Perry

      Once again; it’s all about THE MONEY! They don’t care how much ‘work’ you put in to get better. All they care about is how much longer they can keep you inside and get annual money for you being continually locked up!! Look, having a Great Attitude is nice and all, but if you’re still not being given an opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to use the ‘so-called tools’ you’ve been taught over and again to use, then what’s the damn point in learning them after all? They’re not going to let you out…EVER! So it is a life sentence!! Furthermore, let’s be really For Real about all of this: They NEVER INTENDED, for it to be anything else but the way they currently have it!
      Nuff Said!

    • #81232 Reply
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      WearethePeople

      Shaun,
      That was very well said! We will end this discrepancy, just like what has been done for the other groups that have been labeled. Things change, we just have to work together and show the flaws.

    • #81241 Reply
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      Merry Schoon

      My Son is incarcerated at MSOP Moose Lake and was one of the hunger strikers. We’re making progress, but we need all the support we can get!
      One thing we can all do is to help change the public perception by changing the language. We as a group no longer refer to the inmates as “Sex Offenders”. We use “Residents, Clients or People” We are also trying to change the name of the facility to something more neutral.
      Please join us in our efforts!

      Thank-you!

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