By Paul Shannon . . . How can NARSOL support the courageous men on hunger strike at the draconian Moose Lake civil commitment facility in Minnesota? How can we show solidarity with their 70 supporters, some of whom made a car caravan around the facility several weeks ago, and who on July 18 held an amazing public rally at the state capitol?
They spoke to the indignities and hardships of the 737 men who have served their sentences but were thrown into civil commitment on the basis that they might commit a new crime in the future. Some of them have been re-imprisoned for many decades.
We heard of the grandfather who will likely die at Moose Lake before he will ever get to see his grandchild, who is not allowed to visit him because he is a minor. We heard of the men who are too old to walk or who have to use wheelchairs. We learned of the absurd restrictions on contact with lawyers and on making telephone calls. We learned that there is basically no treatment available because it is assumed almost all the men will die there. According to one participant, a common reaction among the guards when a man dies in these facilities is, “Another one completed treatment.”
And this is the most painful part of this nightmare experience: There is virtually no way out, no matter what you do. There is almost no hope of ever being released. For most, the only way out of this “preventive detention” is death.
During the rally Mr. Daniel Larsen was spliced in to the rally by phone from inside Moose Lake. He told the story of being originally incarcerated when he was 15 and being civilly committed ever since – even though he was never convicted of any crime but was judged “likely to offend.”
It was announced at the July 18 rally that the 40 men on hunger strike were urged to end it before they suffered irreparable harm. But two continued fasting anyways, causing great concern among supporters.
NARSOL joins with these incarcerated men and their courageous grassroots supporters in their demand to end civil commitment in Minnesota. We will follow the situation as it develops. For now, we urge all NARSOL members, no matter what state you live in, to consider contacting the governor of Minnesota and implore that he issue an executive order to shut-down preventive detention in Minnesota.
You can contact Governor Tim Walz using this email form:
Or you can call the governor’s office at 651-201-3400
Better yet you can write to Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan at this address:
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
You can read about the hunger strike at https://www.redlakenationnews.com/story/2021/07/13/news/hunger-strike-takes-toll-on-detainees-at-minnesota-treatment-center-for-sex-offenders/99262.html
And you can view the video of the July 18 rally at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EGjcg9piHg
For almost all of Paul’s adult life, he has been an activist, writer, and speaker in various peace, union, prison reform, human rights, and social justice movements. In the late ’90s he helped organize a broad coalition for hearings to oppose the original sex offender registry and lifetime civil commitment legislation in Massachusetts, and in 2007 he was a founder of the original Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL). Paul is the former chair of the NARSOL Board of Directors.
20 Thoughts to “NARSOL chair urges, “Support Moose Lake protesters and civil commitment protests.””
I have written a letter to the Governor of Minnesota. Thank you for informing me of the terrible injustices committed at the Moose Lake Civil Commitment Facility. Hopefully some corrective action will be taken by the Governor and his staff.
Absolutely disgusting. This is the end result of politicians passing law after law after law to get reelected. I am ashamed of America. Everything done is to protect some kid somewhere. This sells out the soul of the nation. It’s abhorrent and absolutely reprehensible that this is allowed “to protect just one child”. I’m angry.
This whole “protect just one child” thing is maddening. You know what would protect more children? Parents not being clueless, parents actually spending time with their children, parents teaching their children what kind of behavior from adults is and isn’t ok, and BELIEVING their kids if they speak up about abuse. But no, let’s put the burden of protecting children on anyone else but the people who put them on this Earth.
Plus, far from every child who gets molested is doomed to be traumatized for life. If they get the mental help they need, they can become whole again and very quickly. Children respond to therapy very well, and successful therapy makes it do that the abuse it just a thing that happened to them, not something that defines them. Not so for those on the registry. The registry always defines them, and good luck finding effective therapy.
If civil commitment is put to an end, the towns in MN are just going to start passing ordinances to keep sex offenders out. Anyone released is quite likely to be homeless, and it may upend the lives of the former offenders who live in the community already. It happened in WI, and it happened in MN the last time they tried to challenge the constitutionality of the detention facilities.
I can support changing the conditions for the people in the program, but I can’t support shutting it down or significantly accelerating releases.
Most of those ordinances have been ruled unconstitutional in many states. To say they should keep people locked up because they may commit a crime in the future is wrong and selfish on your part. They should end all civil commitments everywhere in every state.!!
In MN, the rolling back of ordinances has been annoyingly peace-meal.
One town, West St. Paul I think, repealed its ordinance after being sued. Another town, Apple Valley, was sued and just made an exception for the plaintiffs.
A state judge struck down an ordinance in Dayton, MN, stating that the needs of the state in placing people released from prison supersedes city laws, but that ruling only applied to Dayton and would not apply to a registered person who had already been released and wanted to move there. And some places like Norwood Young America *still* passed ordinances after the Dayton incident.
Got news for you minnesotan. They were passing them ordinances before and since implementation of civil commitments. I went from 10 yr. Registration or length of parole (19 years), to lifetime with no due process. Civil commitment is just another form of death sentence. I’ve been writing letters to government officials and politicians for over 20 years. Like banging your head on a wall. But maybe they will wake up one day.
What a town should do if they are fearful about a newly-released person causing harm in their community is form a Circle of Support and Accountability around this person. These have proven to work.
The first COSA was formed in Canada in 1994 when a Mennonite paster and some of his parishioners formed a support group when a mentally-delayed, repeat sex offender — a man who had been in and out of institutions his entire life – are to their community. The man never re-offended.
Yes, Kathie, we need to get the word out there about Circles of Support
At least you are free. If you were were arrested , and in there past your sentence, I am real sure you would think otherwise. No one should be held past their sentences, otherwise what is the point of a judge sentencing you? Just lock up everyone for life and throw away the key.
Also no matter how much counseling is supposedly given, the counselors seem to always say none of them are safe to be released. Why give treatment if you think it does no good?
I would rather have a roof over my head, fed, and imprisoned than in the community homeless, jobless, and ostracized. That is all.
I do think reform is necessary. I think the institutionalized people should be able to communicate with the outside world, visit with family including those underage, and have generally more humane conditions. But if those institutions are challenges in any substantial way, there *will* be a panic.
COSA’s (Circle of Safety and Accountability) are nice, but good luck actually implementing one. It’s so much easier to just say “not in our town.”
Sounds like the movie with Tom Cruise called “Minority Report”. People were arrested for crimes they are “Likely” to commit in the future. Even though not registry related, it is similar to what is happening to these folks. If you have never seen the movie, I suggest you watch it.
I left my email with The Governor. He won’t read it of course!
I wrote the governor and received a response from Ploua Yang, Public Engagement Department, of the Governor’s office saying this is a pending court case or a legal matter, and that the governor cannot get involved, Since we are not advocating for an individual, but an entire policy, I think it is reasonable to ask the governor to do something. If you live in Minnesota, I think a letter to the editor in your local newspaper would also be good.
All advocates can help by attending these types of events. Public information is an essential part of what we need to ABOLISH THE REGISTRY. If you are unable to attend in person you can always make a donation to the people putting the events together, this one was started by people caged in a shadow prison that is called a “treatment center” by our government. It is time all registered persons and those claiming to be advocates stood up and did something to end this despicable treatment of people that have already served their time. I am an advocate, are you? ABOLISH THE REGISTRY!
Sure, they’ve been passing laws, but there was an unprecedented *mad rush* after they tried to challenge the constitutionality of the St. Peter facility. In WI, the reason all the ordinances around Milwaukee exist is because they tried to close Sand Ridge.
I am thinking of the people committed too. If these people get released there will be no place for them to live. How is that better? At least right now they have a roof over their head.
I wonder… If you were subjected to their psychological tests if you might not find yourself in there as well.
every americNn should be ashamed of this–his is what one would expect of North Koera or China or communist Russia
Wher is the Evidence ?
There is a show on pbs called due process and I encourage the commentor Minnesotan to watch it. It is put on by Rutgers and an episode features a gentleman in New Jersey who was civilly committed. They bring up how Minnesota is the absolute worst state when it comes to this issue. This particular gentleman plead guilty to a sex crime he did not commit putting him on the register and years later is accused of another sex crime he did not commit. He plead guilty to kidnapping and spent years in prison and the day of his release he was civilly committed. He took another 10 years in that unconstitutional hell for him to prove his innocence and get out. We will never know how many innocent people take pleas, and end up in these hell holes. The government has made it extremely difficult to overturn convictions. Places like cornerhouse have added to injustice, cop crime labs that are biased, forensic DNA is fallible and highly suggestive, we have a system that has been set up to convict at all costs. Too many corrupt corporations are profiting from the injustice system including civil commitment. Minnesota has by passed laws that require psychiatrists to diagnose, they allow non medical people who are not qualified to diagnose. We must stand up for everyone’s liberties, we will find ourselves without any liberties.