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Dayton Wants Sex Offender Releases Halted For Now

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Five days after a public uproar over the possible release of violent sex offender Thomas Duvall, Gov. Mark Dayton suspended any future sex offender releases in Minnesota. And he put on hold another sex offender plan set for Cambridge.

Dayton directed his human services commissioner to halt provisional releases of Minnesota sex offenders until the Legislature has time to make changes to the state’s legally embattled treatment program.

He said posturing by political candidates has create a circus atmosphere, so he’s making a major change. Still, he said he supports Duvall’s release.

The 698 violent sex offenders now in treatment facilities at St. Peter and Moose Lake are back on hold.

An irritated Dayton blamed his critics for sinking an administration attempt to release some under strict scrutiny.

“And it’s very easy to scare people — scare the general public, scare them with exaggerations and misrepresentations and the like,” Dayton said.

Dayton supports the possible release of 56-year-old Duvall, convicted of sadistic violent rapes, but who served his prison time and 10 years of treatment.

“One of the hockey moms said to me in practice on Sunday, ‘Why the hell would the governor let this guy out?'” said Rep. Kurt Zellers, a candidate for governor.

A federal court says Minnesota cannot hold sex offenders indefinitely, and must release them if they complete treatment.

Dayton said it’s his duty to follow the law, not his personal feelings.

“And I do feel that way personally,” he said. “Lock them up. Throw away the key.”

Dayton also suspended plans to move sex offenders to a less restrictive facility in Cambridge.

One lawmaker called it a “time out” in the face of widespread opposition from Cambridge residents.

“Clearly they tried to steamroll the city of Cambridge. That caught up to them and they decided to put the project on hold,” said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River.

The governor said it’s up to the legislature to come up with a plan for releasing sex offenders under strict supervision into the community.

And if it doesn’t, it is very possible the federal courts will order all of them released.

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