By Nick Winkler
State lawmakers are now looking to punish sex offenders who are convicted of felonies while in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP).
Lawmakers tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS civilly committed sex offenders are assaulting program staff members, sexually assaulting one another, and making terroristic threats.
They also tell us the Department of Human Services referred more than 50 cases at the MSOP Moose Lake facility for criminal prosecution in 2012.
However, public defenders say the problems run even deeper.
Lawmakers say data provided by public defenders reveal MSOP patients are committing between 17-22 felonies each month. Right now, those convicted simply remain at MSOP.
That may soon change though.
Rep. Debra Hilstrom, (DFL) Brooklyn Center, is sponsoring a bill that would send civilly committed sex offenders who commit felonies at the MSOP to prison. After offenders complete their prison sentences, the Department of Corrections would send the offender back to the MSOP.
- Come on! Why is another law needed for this? A crime is a crime, and if they commit a crime, they should be arrested and sent to jail to await a trial like anybody else who commits a crime, it shouldn't matter if they are in civil commitment, jail or prison! This, in our opinion, is just a way for a politician to put their name on something to make themselves look "tough!"
Hilstrom says if the bill becomes law it could save taxpayers millions of dollars since it is so much cheaper to house people in state prisons (approximately $85/day) rather than the sex offender program (approximately $350/day).
Hilstrom says several influential republicans support the bill which will be introduced Wednesday.
News of violent felonies being committed at MSOP comes as the state considers whether to release civilly committed sex offenders to less secure facilities around the state.