By Steve Tellier
Hundreds of convicted sex offenders are ordered to complete treatment while in prison but are released without doing so. And even the Minnesota Department of Corrections admits those convicts are more likely to commit another sexual crime once they're back on the street.
"The department is very concerned about the risk of all sex offenders," said Steve Allen, the director of behavioral health sciences at the DOC.
That concern was clear in a new DOC report presented to the legislature last week. It states that in Minnesota, there are about 1,800 sex offenders behind bars who are supposed to complete a treatment program before being released. But only one in three ever enter that treatment, let alone complete it. A 2010 DOC report showed those who are released before participating in treatment are about six percent more likely to commit another sexual crime.
"That really is a disappointing figure," said Donna Dunn, the executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "We know that sex offender treatment can work and does work. We know that that is something that is incredibly important for offenders to go through. When that doesn't happen, we know that public safety is compromised."
The DOC does make sure the most serious offenders are the ones who get spots in the prison treatment program, and the ones who don't are passed on to community-based treatment and supervision after they're released.
"The research tells us to put the resources where the risk is," Allen said.
The problem is that resources are lacking.
"We would need funding to expand our treatment," Allen said.
The DOC's budget has recently remained flat, and Gov. Mark Dayton's budget proposal doesn't include any additional cash.
"Preventing sexual violence has got to be a priority," Dunn said.
The chair of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy committee, Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul), said the legislature is looking for ways to get the DOC more money and resources for offender treatment.
Friday, January 25, 2013
MN - Report: Hundreds of Sex Offenders Released Before Completing Treatment