Thursday, August 22, 2013

MN - Lawyers challenge Minnesota's sex offender program, ask judge to deem it unconstitutional

Lawyers want Minnesota's Civil Commitment program deemed unconstitutional
Original Article

08/22/2013

ST. PAUL - Lawyers filed motions Thursday asking a federal judge to declare the Minnesota Sex Offender Program unconstitutional, move the people in it to less restrictive facilities and appoint a court officer to oversee the program.

The filings came in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 600 sex offenders who were committed to the treatment program indefinitely after completing their prison sentences. They're not free to leave the program's prisonlike facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake.

The program has been under fire because of continuing questions about its constitutionality and high costs. Only one patient has ever been successfully released from the program since its creation in 1994. A Department of Human Services review board recently recommended two more offenders for provisional release, which would require court approval.

In Thursday's motions, the plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank to declare a key statute governing the program unconstitutional as it's been applied. They said it's all but impossible to meet the state's discharge standards. They also want the state to immediately provide less restrictive alternative treatment facilities and re-evaluate each plaintiff to see if they qualify for them. They also want a special master appointed to oversee the program and ensure that it is staffed adequately to give each patient the opportunity to graduate to freedom.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15.

"We have received and will carefully review the plaintiffs' motions, which were filed today in compliance with court imposed deadlines," Anne Barry, the state's deputy commissioner of human services. "We have been making progress toward addressing concerns about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and have taken several steps that balance client needs with public safety."

Dan Gustafson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the program is essentially a life sentence.

"No one ever gets out," Gustafson said.


3 comments :

deathklok said...

I think the federal judges over seeing this mess should civilly commit all the responsible parties for resolving it in a similar facility or Gitmo until they come up with a viable solution. Maybe then they'll understand what they're putting these prisoner patients through.

dlc said...

Agreed!

Mark said...

In my experience in the legal world for 18+ years, the powers that be enacting and controlling these civil commitment facilities, are and most importantly: 1) bureaucrats; 2) they are mainly and mostly 1-2 dimensional thinkers; 3) they will not do or act any more then they have to to improve, or better their own enactments, rules, regulations and so forth ; 4) because of the above, the courts become clogged with manifold law suits in order to get bureaucrats to act by legal judicial force, and only then will they act. 5) when they are FORCED to act, they will act only, and only in a "MINIMAL" capacity to make their changes etc. constitutional so courts get off their backs; then courts become generally complacent to the changes and then approve of their actions. As a result, everyone is happy except those locked away in "civil" commitment until too old to move or deceased..