Protesters at Moose Lake demand end to civil commitment

By Teri Cadeau . . . MOOSE LAKE, Minn. — Loud honks were heard Sunday, July 11, as protesters gathered outside of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program Moose Lake facility to support the residents in a hunger strike.

According to members of organizing groups Ocean and End MSOP, around 40 detainees inside the facility started a hunger strike on July 4 to call for an end to “an indefinite detention program they believe is an unconstitutional death sentence.” The strikers have put out calls for an executive order from Gov. Tim Walz or a sponsored bill to close the program.

“Our goal here today is to head over to the facility to honk and make some noise to let the people in there know that we care about them,” said David Boehnke, organizer from End MSOP. “We’re well into a hunger strike by the men in there and they’re calling for action to end this kind of detainment.”

MSOP houses approximately 743 sex offenders under court-ordered civil commitment for treatment, with about 450 at Moose Lake and nearly 300 at a facility in St. Peter. The program has been controversial since its inception in 1994, with courts granting only 14 full discharges and 45 provisional discharges over that time.

According to protesters, three of the hunger strikers were hospitalized as of Saturday and 28 remain on strike. Protesters also claim the facility has told detainees that it’s not considered an “official hunger strike unless they are refusing both food and water.

“We’ve already had four men on strike collapse, and two of them are still in the hospital today,” Boehnke said. “We have members of their families here today to show support for them as they continue on.”

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4 Thoughts to “Protesters at Moose Lake demand end to civil commitment”

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  1. Tim in WI

    Sad state of affairs. Wisconsin has already countered this tactic by utilizing feeding tubes and restraint chairs. I do not recall the entire context and I may not attach a hyperlink, but it was in a state institution. Same story a man refused to eat or drink. WI Supreme Court upheld the practice of forced feeding. WI uses a facility named Sand hill to house and ” treat” those tried under Sect.980. I know a few of them. For the most part they are highly volatile individuals prone to emotional outburst and impulsive aggression. Obviously these individuals display the same behavior while incarcerated, although it plays out in different ways. i think it is incredible how few attacks on staff occur at these facilities given the individuals involved. Obviously medication plays a large role.

  2. Perry P

    I bet those State Politicians are real happy about this.
    Nuff Said!

  3. Minnesotan

    Just FYI… the last time the constitutionality of the MN civil commitment program was called into question, the small towns in MN passed a frenzy of ordinances to keep people who would potentially be released out of their towns. One such ordinance was struck down by the state and there were a couple successful lawsuits, but that has only slowed down, not stopped the passing of ordinances.

    I pray Minneapolis and St Paul will never pass any such ordinances.

  4. Jim

    Why is it that they only Civilly Commit sex offenders, but they don’t civllly commit any other offender that does a violent crime?
    What is good for one should be good for all violent crimes. Sex Offenders should not be discriminated. The Sexual Civil Commitment Law need to be eliminated.