|Moose Lake Correctional Facility|
By BRAD SCHRADE
Minnesota plans to move as many as a dozen low-functioning and medically needy sex offenders from its high-security treatment campuses to a lower-security facility in Cambridge next year if the state receives court approval.
Thursday’s announcement comes as state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson faces mounting legal pressure to reform the two-decade old sex offender program. Several residents in the program are suing the state in federal court, claiming it violates their constitutional rights because no one ever gets released from the two high-security facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter.
“These are steps to reform the program,” Jesson said.
In a letter to state legislative leaders, Jesson said the program’s treatment team is supporting the petitions of six offenders who are intellectually disabled to transfer to the state facility in Cambridge. In the fall, the state will also seek to move roughly six offenders with serious medical needs to the facility.
The Cambridge facility, which is operated by the Department of Human Services, currently serves clients with developmental disabilities. They are being moved from that facility, and it will be refashioned to serve the sex offenders. It will include increased security, but be less restrictive than St. Peter and Moose Lake, Jesson said.
She said her agency will meet with local officials and Cambridge residents if they have questions about moving the sex offenders to their community.
“There is security at this facility already,” she said. “We are going to enhance that security.”
If the court approves the transfer, the offenders would start moving sometime in the summer or fall of 2014, she said. The facility is licensed for a maximum of 16 occupants.