ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An expensive program designed to rehabilitate the Minnesota’s worst sexual predators provides fewer hours of treatment each week than less feared sex offenders receive in prison or private residential treatment, a new report said Friday.

That was a key finding in Legislative Auditor James Nobles’ review of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and the civil commitment process used to send sex offenders there when their prison time runs out. With the state spending $120,000 a year for each of the more than 600 residents — three times the cost of prison — the program is getting a closer look from lawmakers.

The Legislative Audit Commission examined the report Friday as a judicial panel considered John Rydberg’s attempt to become the first person permanently freed from the program since it began in 1995. The convicted rapist petitioned for provisional release after reaching the final level of treatment. Only six others have made it that far, and one other has petitioned to get out.

The auditor’s review of 41 offenders’ schedules found they received inconsistent treatment and not enough of it — a weekly average of 7 1/2 hours of group therapy and psychological education classes, which is on the low end compared to 19 other states that civilly commit sex offenders. Sex offenders in state prisons receive 9 to 10 1/2 hours of group therapy and classes and Alpha Human Services, a private residential program in Minneapolis, provides at least 16 hours.

“MSOP was designed to hold and treat the highest risk offenders in the state,” the report said. “However, it appears that offenders who are lower risk . . . receive more intensive treatment as measured by hours of sex offender treatment per week.”

The report recommends more weekly hours of treatment for sex offenders in the program.

It also found that high turnover and unfilled jobs among clinical staff — particularly on the program’s Moose Lake campus — hampered some offenders’ progress. The program is on its third executive director and fourth executive clinical director in seven years, with the treatment approach revamped frequently since 2003. Auditors said at one point six of eight clinical supervisor positions were unfilled and with vacancies among clinical staff, some were managing 25 offenders instead of the recommended eight.

The other program’s other campus is in St. Peter, southwest of the Twin Cities.

State human services officials said all but four vacancies in Moose Lake have been filled and workers are trying to increase the number of hours of treatment offenders receive.

“The challenge here of course is if we spend more on treatment and staff, the program has more cost and is more expensive,” Deputy Human Services Commissioner Anne Barry told lawmakers.

With about 50 sex offenders added each year, the program’s population has nearly quadrupled in the past decade and is expected to double again in the next 10 years. Officials have asked lawmakers to approve a $7 million expansion this year and are preparing to submit a much larger construction request next year.

“It’s hard to tell if it’s working,” said House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee Chairman Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder. “They won’t know until they release somebody.”

Cornish said he hopes a task force will come up with ideas to improve the program before next year’s legislative session.

Other findings:

–Minnesota has the nation’s highest number of civilly committed sex offenders per person, at 110 per million residents, about four times the average for the other 19 states with civil commitment. Possible explanations include a low legal standard for civil commitment and a dramatic spike in civil commitment referrals starting in late 2003, when a convicted rapist released from a Minnesota prison abducted, raped and killed North Dakota college student Dru Sjodin.

–Sex offenders in Hennepin and Ramsey counties and northeastern Minnesota were less likely to end up civilly committed after prison than those in the rest of Minnesota, where prosecutors were more aggressive about pursuing civil commitments. “It calls into question whether we’re committing the worst of the worst to civil commitment,” project manager John Yunker said. The report recommends a task force to look at standardizing the civil commitment process.

–For sex offenders nearing the end of their prison time, Minnesota’s system offers no middle option between civil commitment and release. The report recommends developing alternatives, such as cheaper facilities that could treat sex offenders and the option of staying a commitment while the offender gets treatment. It also suggests that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program move some of its lower-risk residents into a cheaper alternative program, potentially including low-functioning offenders who may never complete the current treatment program.

–Security ate up 45 percent of the program’s cost, while treatment accounted for12 percent. But the overall cost is in line with other civil commitment programs around the country.

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

Comments (8)
  1. Valentina Heath says:

    Why not them to work for living? Why another people have to pay for them ?

  2. Drake Anderson says:

    All sex offenders should be castrated, and if they sexually assault again capital punishment is next

  3. vanessa says:

    IIt is a waste of money. Treatment doesn’t help. They should be locked a way. IForever.

  4. fitswell says:

    I say castrate them the very first time they do this and then your done with them , next thing they do shoot them…..

  5. TLC says:

    This seems outrageous to me. We’re talking about cutting aid to the poor, disadvantaged, and disabled, who haven’t committed any crimes, can barely take care of themselves, and yet we’re considering increasing the amount spent on criminals who have taken advantage of those who can’t defend themselves, especially those who will most likely re-offend.

    Does anyone else wonder about the sanity of this?

    Personally, I applaud those who are getting by on less and less or are homeless and still not turning to crime. I don’t condone the woman robbing the bank to pay her rent…but the way things are going, I certainly understand. It looks to be a pretty comfortable life behind bars…a warm place to sit and sleep, three meals a day, excellent health care, CABLE TV, and you don’t have to work at all! The people they committed the crimes against are footing the bill for the comfortable living while good and decent people are wondering how and when they will be able to feed their children.

  6. Victim Du Jour says:

    I think the State of Minnesota is making it illegal for ugly and misfit people to have sex.

    The Nazis called it their “action T-4 Euthinasia program”

    They castrated all the undesirables at the Hadamar Clinic. And their theory was it will cut down on Healthcare costs for the State.

    Sex Offender Paranoia resembles McCarthyism, and it’s an easy way for State Union people to get Pension funding without question.

  7. Mike says:

    Just like the victims of these animals who will be victims for the rest of their lives, these offenders will never rehabilitate and are at risk to continue to offend. Total waste of money. Minnesota needs to get tougher on sex offenders. Maybe we should ask Dru Sjodin’s parents what they think….

  8. Keeping it real in Minnesota says:

    “Treatment” is a word in this topic that seems very nebulous to me, what exactly is treatment for guys that are told that they are committed indefinantly? do you think that they are going gain anything from the “treatment” other than being brain washed into believing something their therapist want them to believe… 120K a year, the only thing working with the “program” is the people who have a paycheck to babysit these guys…..remember, a person convinced of something against their will… of the same opinion still.

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