By Mark Albert
With less than two weeks to go until a court-imposed deadline for proposals for less restrictive alternatives to Minnesota's current program for civilly committed sex offenders, one of the sex offenders who is part of the class-action lawsuit that forced the recommendations vows to "sue my way out the front door."
"I have remorse, I'm sorry for what I did, I'm sorry I grew up as a hateful person," explained [name withheld], a 41 year-old from Minneapolis who the state has determined is a "sexually dangerous person" and has been committed since 2005.
"But I love life, I love people, I love my family. I want to go home to my family. I want to be a productive member of society," [name withheld] said during an interview recently at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility in Moose Lake.
"I'm filing a civil rights complaint. I'm going to sue my way out the front door," [name withheld] said.
[name withheld] is one of the 669 sex offenders - all men except for one woman - committed to MSOP; they represent about four percent of the state's 17,500 registered sex offenders.
The MSOP sex offenders are part of a federal lawsuit (PDF) that has been certified as class-action that has brought the state closer than ever to reforming the program, which is supposed to offer treatment to persons deemed to be "sexually dangerous" or who have a "sexually psychopathic personality."
Since 1993, not one "client," as the sex offenders are called, has ever successfully finished treatment and completely graduated from the program.
"Two decades have shown that they've been a failure in their treatment, in their attempt at providing treatment," declared [name withheld] another civilly committed sex offender in Moose Lake who was convicted of raping a woman in 1989. He has been confined in MSOP since 1993.
Anne Barry, deputy commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Human Services which runs the MSOP, acknowledges the lack of provisional discharges.
"I don't think that we're satisfied that we've moved enough people through phases of treatment," Barry said in an interview.
"There need to be some changes if we are going to actually either move more people into the community who have been appropriately treated or if we divert some of those people who would otherwise come to us," said Barry.
DHS is awaiting the recommendations from the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Task Force, which is set to finalize its recommendations at a meeting Nov. 29th and present them to the department, the court, and the Legislature by Dec. 3.
"I can see no reason why we would not follow their recommendations," Barry told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
The largest reforms may require Legislative action; the next session begins in January.
"In addition to our responsibility to make sure that, in fact, we're treating people, we also have a responsibility to the public safety," Barry said. "So there is pressure from all over the place."
Of the 669 sex offenders committed to the MSOP, only 10 - one percent - are in the final phase before they petition a judicial panel for a provisional discharge, according to DHS.
Minnesota has the highest number of civilly committed sex offenders per capita of any state.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the sex offenders in the MSOP are classified as Level 3, which the Department of Corrections defines as the "highest public risk" of re-offending.
- (06/17/2013) After Legislative Inaction, Sex Offender Task Force Presses On (Video available)
- (06/17/2013) Less Restrictive Alternatives Considered for Sex Offenders (Video available)
- (06/17/2013) Violence Inside State Sex Offender Program Could Mean Prison Transfer (Video available)