Inside The Razor Wire, Part 4: Lawmakers & The MN Sex Offender Program
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 takes us “Inside the Razor Wire” with a series of reports on the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers have a difficult job ahead.
They must decide what to do about the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, now that a federal judge has ruled that it is broken and in need of repair.
In Part 4 of our new series “Inside the Razor Wire”, WCCO’s Susie Jones talks to legislators about the problem and the potential solutions.
Minnesota lawmakers have a choice: change the way the state handles sex offenders or let a federal court decide how to make the system constitutional.
“I do not believe that you should have the federal court, or force the federal court by our inactivity to have to come in and tell us what to do. But I know there are legislators who would prefer to say the devil made us do it, the court did it. I’m not responsible for these changes,” DFL Senator Kathy Sheran said.
A federal lawsuit filed claims the civil commitment program is illegal because it keeps people locked up, after their prison terms are compete for crimes not yet committed.
Sheran explains the judge’s ruling on changes needed, which is a ruling she agrees with.
“One is the process by which people get civilly committed. The second is in relationship to the quality of the treatment and the ability to move through treatment, and then improving the process by which people can challenge the necessity for continued commitment,” she said.
However, Republican Rep. Tony Cornish is a former law enforcement officer and believes the solution should focus on longer sentences for sex offenders in the first place and a more secure system over all.
“If these people re-offend, they’re not taking about stealing a snowmobile out of the garage. They are taking about taking your son or daughter or a loved one, for either a rape or murder. And that’s why we can’t treat it like any other crime if it’s a re-offense,” Cornish said.
In this election year the chances that the Minnesota Legislature will take up this issue is slim, but if the state doesn’t act, there is the real threat the federal courts will intervene.