Friday, March 15, 2013

MN - Committees Hear Testimony on Sex Offender Legislation

Original Article


By Zach Vavricka

St. Paul (NNCNOW) - It's an expensive solution to a difficult problem that could be deemed unconstitutional.

Since 1994, the Minnesota Sex Offender Treatment Program has grown to a population of close to 700 clients.

With locations in Moose Lake and St. Peter, the treatment facilities house those who are still deemed dangerous to the public, but who have finished their prison time.

"They are committed because they are deemed to be dangerous to the public and in need of treatment," said Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL 26A.

Minnesota legislators are hoping to fix the program following a class action lawsuit, prompting a federal order to reform.

A pair of bills are making their way through the legislative process, hoping to offer alternatives.

"It is impermissible to incarcerate people, simply because you are afraid they will do something bad in the future," said Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, the leader of a task force attempting to gather data and information about the M.S.O.P.

The legislation would have the same standard to commit someone to a treatment center, but would create alternatives as to where that treatment could occur.

"Maybe in a secure setting, or maybe in a less secure setting if that can become constant with public long," said Liebling.

A request of information was sent out to several facilitates in Minnesota. 21 of them sent back their perspective of what an alternative setting could be, and how much it would cost.

Rep. Liebling said that GPS monitoring devices are one of the options on the table.

Also, those in treatment would receive regular reviews, in which the court system could decide to grant a provisional discharge.

The bill in the House was laid over for more debate. The Senate bill was advanced to the finance committee.

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