MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota program that houses more than 700 sex offenders in prison-like conditions is constitutional.
That’s the result of an announcement by the U.S Supreme Court not to hear the sex offenders’ appeal of a lower court ruling.
In 2015, a federal judge handed the sex offenders a victory by ruling that the program was unconstitutional.
But that ruling was overturned earlier this year by a federal appeals court.
The Supreme Court decision not to hear the sex offenders’ appeal means the lower court ruling stands.
Currently, 720 sex offenders are being held in two state facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter.
“I am disappointed and I don’t see a path forward,” said Dan Gustafson, the attorney for the sex offenders.
For six years, Gustafson has championed the unpopular cause of the sex offenders who are committed indefinitely after serving their criminal sentences.
“What we are doing is committing people for what they might do in the future and not what they have done in the past,” he said.
In the first two decades of the program, no one was ever released.
Since the litigation began, one offender has been fully released, eight are living in community placement and seven are awaiting community placement.
State officials expressed support for the Supreme Court ruling.
In a statement, Gov. Mark Dayton said this development allows the state to continue to run the program but will also allow the state “to continue reforms we have begun instead of operating under a federal directive.”
The impact of the Supreme Court decision will be felt beyond Minnesota.
At least 20 other states have similar sex offender programs; most of those are also facing legal challenges.