By Susie Jones
The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is “clearly broken” and in need of repair. That’s according to a federal judge who ruled this month on a class action lawsuit, brought against the state, by clients of the program.
WCCO’s Susie Jones begins a series of reports on the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, taking us “Inside the Razor Wire.” We begin with an exclusive tour of the Moose Lake facility.
MOOSE LAKE (WCCO) – Inside the Minnesota Sex Offender Program at Moose Lake, men return to the hallways after being locked inside their rooms to be counted.
It is bright and clean, and doesn't look like you might think it would.
“I think they think of something more dark and dingy, something more punitive,” Kevin Moser, who manages the facility, said. “This is a therapeutic community. It is a therapeutic expectation of staff, and clients, who support our clients in positive change.”
About 500 clients live in locked rooms with a bed, a dresser, a desk and their own belongings. The average age is 47 and most are white. They have all served time in prison for sexual offenses and have been civilly committed to the program.
While there, they can learn a trade and get treatment.
“Someone could be struggling with anxiety and pedophilia,” Clinical Director Jannine Hebert said.
Hebert is in charge of the therapy the client’s receive. She says the men take part in group sessions three times a week, and their behavior is monitored at all times — with staff keeping a close eye on how they interact with their peers.
“Because what we know about people with pedophilic interest is that they are scared of adults and gravitate toward children. So, part of his treatment plan may be this weekend, ‘I’m going to tell you to go play basketball and I’m going to let staff know if you are isolating in the corner,’” she said.
Herbert believes re integration into society is possible and should be attempted.
“I want clients to be successful in treatment, so they don’t hurt anyone else going forward,” she said.
On Tuesday, we meet Michael, a sex offender at Moose Lake who molested a 10-year-old girl. He says the system is broken.