Report: Minn. Sex Offender Program Needs Space

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is looking for an emergency 55-bed expansion as it fills up with sex offenders committed to treatment by the courts after serving prison time.

A new report to the Legislature from program officials recommends a $7 million renovation of a 50-year-old state security hospital building in St. Peter. The project would start this year and be finished by 2013, when existing facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter are projected to reach capacity.

Officials are looking toward next year, when they hope to win approval of a larger project on the Moose Lake campus. Their preferred option: a 400-bed expansion that would cost $57 million and be ready to open by 2014.

Program spokeswoman Bonnie Martin said Gov. Mark Dayton will decide whether to include the emergency expansion request in his bonding proposal to lawmakers. Dayton spokeswoman Katie Tinucci said Dayton will present the request by the end of the month.

The secure treatment program continues to grow as judges commit more sex offenders but no one gets out. With 605 patients this month, the program is projected to add about 50 each year. Program director Dennis Benson told a legislative panel Monday that he expects the first release within the next year as two sex offenders in the most advanced treatment level petition for provisional discharges.

Last year’s construction projects bill included $47.5 million for the Moose Lake campus, slightly more than half the amount sought by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. That money went for infrastructure, not beds, including everything from kitchen and dining space to security and treatment rooms. A 400-bed building in Moose Lake opened in 2009.

Benson touched on the space needs as he testified about the program before the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

“This is a highly litigious population,” he said. “We get sued just about every week on lumpy gravy or unmade beds or something, so I think we would work very hard with legislative leadership and the executive branch to make sure that we had the room to accommodate growth.”

Senate Capital Investment Committee Chairman Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he expects to limit this year’s bonding bill to “bread and butter.” He hesitated when asked if the sex offender program would fit into that category.

“We need to understand the urgency a little bit more,” he said. “Obviously if that urgency does exist, we need to consider that.”

GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said money for the sex offender facility should be included if the Legislature approves a bonding bill, but lawmakers first want to review past bonding projects with unspent funds before approving new ones.

“If there is to be a bonding bill this year, I would say that’s an absolute priority,” said Zellers, R-Maple Grove.

The Shantz Building on the state’s St. Peter campus houses Minnesota Security Hospital patients, who would have to be moved to make way for the sex offenders. Annual operating costs for those beds are estimated at $3 million a year. It will cost $67.4 million this year to operate the full program.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • mike olson

    How abought taking A look at just what percent of the people sent to these facilities are ever really ready for release? I believe as a lot of others do that we should have a more permanent fix to this problem instead of wasting our money on something that just does not work..



  • Bob

    Can we just toss them on an island? They make their own bed to survive! Quit using up our money for your dirty deeds!

  • Victim Du Jour

    Quite often a junk-science can be recognized as simply a belief-system that cannot be put to any scientific test, like Freudian psychology. What makes sex offenders more dangerous than violent or gun criminals and murderers?

    Is this like Neo-McCarthyism? An easy way for mental health people to charge the state $1,000 per day per patient without questions asked?

    I’m sure there is a level of “Stockholm syndrome” where the inmates just tell the free loading mental health workers what they want to hear.

    You can find a 4 Star hotel room for $50 per night on the internet, and it comes with breakfast and room service. Something doesn’t add up here.

    • Lamplighter

      You sound like a creepy sex offender!

      • Victim Du Jour

        Are you trying to bully me around with paranoid schizophrenia? Why would I have to care if you think I’m a creepy sex offender.

        They used to throw around the word “Communist” and “Pinko” in the same tone of voice.

        People who used the word “Creepy” think like dumb 14 year olds.

  • Ignorance must be bliss

    These people should have understood that by comitting the crimes they did that they have NO rights left and who cares what happens to them!

  • Marisa Bohar

    Personally I would just start pickin’ them off. Don’t bother releasing them cuz they’ll just do it again anyhow.

  • Mr. Joe

    Lets take a look at the BIG picture here. Our so called government just uses us all as pawns in a game of chess , when it comes to our money. They take our money and use it for nonsense. Our government is filled with nothing but sum-sucking, double talking, soulless leeches with legs. Everything that comes out of their mouths is feckless belches of duplicity. None of these so called sex offenders are ready to leave. The prison systems in Minnesota does not work. They have a S.O.T.P (Sex Offender Treatment Program) in Moose Lake, Lino Lakes, and Faribault prisons. They do no justice, and if the offender quits, or gets kicked out. They are punished with 30 extra days in prison. I believe we should bring in the Death Penalty, and use it. 7 million dollars for sex offenders? No thank you, I would rather use that kind of money for schools, hungry, and cancer treatments, not for men who play with children, or rape women!

  • Kathleen Johnson

    It is unfortunate that there is a lack of information out in society about the real recidivism rates for sex offenders. Many live out in the community and have successfully recovered and are paying taxes. The recidivism rates have continued to fall a lot. Most often, they are returned to prison for not being able to find a job or a place to live. Yes, there are a fringe that ought not to get out; but research indicates that most do not go on to reoffend. I feel more threatened by speeders and drunk drivers so if that is the case for safety, them they all should be locked up and the key thrown away. Those miscreants! I think this group is more like to reoffend. Please take some time and do the research to become more informed about a particular population before you go off spouting untruths and knee-jerk reactions. It is just what the Dept of Corrections and media want you to do, to create fear-mongering. Makes great headlines but not much else. Too bad.

    • Ella

      Oh please, you’re saying that these people rarely re-offend? Come on, take your head out of the sand. This is a way of thinking that is difficult to break. Every report I’ve read indicates the opposite of what you’ve just stated. These people have done this hundred of times over prior to even being caught. You think a little program is going to change their bizarre thinking in looking at other human beings – including children, sexually? This is a deep rooted problem, not saying that there are not sex offenders out there that have stopped themselves in their evil offenses but it is rare. Let me guess, another liberal that thinks that all humans are essentially good people – that they just need to be shown the error of their ways and they’ll come around. Without a relationship with God we are essentially evil and will always be prone to behaviors like this whether we want to admit this or not.

      • Magister

        What part of the US bureaucratic system do you think is perfect? How about anywhere near perfect? There are men who are mentally ill and probably should not be released but not the majority. I know it will not be popular and I open myself up to being flamed bur, many of these men can be rehabilitated quite successfully.
        Isn’t that better than taking the money that could be spent on your children’s education (we ranked low of all nations in education), health care, officers to keep better track of the high risk offenders on the street than to waste it keeping people who are able to be released in a prison atmosphere for life? Your immediate reaction will be NO! but if you think about it logically from an educated fact based perspective, I think you would agree. No not everyone could get out, but eventually, many could

      • Magister

        Ella, you are so wrong. If you are so interested in the subject then the least you could do for the safety of our children is to get the correct information and know what is and is not effective. Supporting ineffective, more harm than good, laws is very expensive and time consuming. This allows those who are a high risk to hide in a haystack of no risk, low risk offenders. We see the consequences of this when we read of an assault committed by a repeat offender who was obviously not kept track of but was also obviously a high risk. Please get yourself educated in the facts. It is not enough to tell others they are wrong simply because you WANT them to be wrong. The truth is the truth.

    • Me

      Lets let them move into the Johnson block! She seems to think it would be ok!

      • ELLA

        Ms. Johnson would unlikely take the risk of having these sex offenders in HER neighborhood. She just needs to remove her rose colored glasses and see the world for what it is. Unfortunately, she’s probably been taught by another liberal leaning college on how to be politically correct and ignore the facts just as long as everyone gets treated the same and gets extra chances in life despite the horrific crimes that these sex offenders, etc have committed. This is the problem with ignoring the fact that some have made choices consistently to do evil/ wrong and this is who they have become. We are the end result of the choices we make daily and these people who commit these horrific crimes need to pay for what they have done. Funny comment however, “Me”. She does seem to convey this feeling

      • Morris

        Lets do that. It would be a real wake up call that everyone isn’t as well intentioned as she.

    • Mark Anderson

      Couldn’t we save a lot of money and heartache with simple casteration?

      • Adam

        Not such a bad idea, however that wouldn’t solve the problem in their head. I’m sure they would still attempt other demonic behavior toward whomever they decide to choose for their next victim. Wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot though.

      • Fascism

        Just like the Hadamar Clinic in Germany during the 30’s and 40’s?

    • k

      nicely said, these people dont really even know the truth their judgmental obviously they dont care to read the facts

    • TMH

      Touchy issue and complex… I do not accept that sexual offenders should be locked up and have the key thrown away. On the other hand it only takes one of many who is released only to do this horrible crime again to have me change my mind to see them locked up forever. I hear that there are many alternatives than the secure treatment program. I agree Kathleen that we should not take a very narrow view of what we seem to know and then use that to stir up others to enact misinformed and unjustified actions. Until we get something better we need to support what we have without being inhuman ourselves.

    • Gary Meyers

      Kathleen would feel safer around a convicted sex offender than a speeder or a drunk driver? maybe she should spend a night in Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr cell then she can tell everyone how safe these sex offenders really are.

    • Anne

      There are also some messed up laws in minnesota that need to be changed. I know there are real predators but quit charging these kids with sex crimes because the girl is 17 and they boy is 18. My nephew is in prison right now because he had just turned 17 and his girlfriend was going to be 15. Itasca county has deystroyed his life. He is immature and kept messin up probation by stupid little things but he is no predator. They would have enough room if they quit charging these kids and focused on the real predators.

      • Angry

        Anne tell your nephew to move to southern MN the police won’t touch him down here! apparently it’s perfectly ok for a 21 year old or even older to have sex with a 15 or 16 year old. At least that’s what I have been told as a parent by law enforcement.

  • Don

    Send them over seas!!!! On a remote island with no food and water for them to fricken rot!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve Garlock

    My daughter was molested by a repeat offender last October. He was rehabilitated a few times over the last 30 years. Best of all the police won’t do anything about it as they told my daughter it was basically consensual sex between them. He’s 50 she is in high school and had never been on a date. The officer then explained to my wife and myself this is a growing trend in Minnesota and parents have to accept this as becoming more commonplace in this country. We went into shock. Currently our daughter is on the streets and he has control over her. I say save the tax dollars and drop some napalm on the place.

    • Michael

      Sorry to hear that Steve. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen. Please be sure to pray for her daily. It’s the only hope she has.

    • Justice

      Steve I have a better idea. Don’t waste your time praying, Michael is an idiot! Get in your car go find your little girl and put one between the freaks eyeballs! I swear it will cure him for good! then go home and get yourself a good nights sleep.

  • Minnesota

    Give the weirdos a sleeping bag and shove them down in the sewers weld the manhole covers shut!!! problem solved besides its where they came from in the first place they should feel right a home.

  • mike olson

    As seen in the previous comments there is A problem with our system lets try as voters to remedy this. We cant try to skirt the issue we have to do what is right. Whether it is capitol punishment or leaving them locked up. We have to make the decision and live with it. I dont believe any one can actually tell us that the system we have is working with A clear conscience.

  • heather

    I agree that we need to figure something out with sex offenders,but i also wonder why some have not been released. People are asking for more money to build a bigger building when there are baby killer’s and other hoarific crimes other then sex offences, but those people get released once there time has been served. You don’t see them going to treatment or trying to change there life, but sex offences go to treatment and have a treatment plan. Minnesota is the most strict state for this. I think we should start letting some of them out and give them the extensive supervised release that they need. What about all the homeless children ,men and women do us minnesotans care about them at all. Ask yourself these questions and think about it twice. I want my money spent where it will make a difference.

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