A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program is unconstitutional, saying it violates the “fundamental rights” of more than 700 people locked up indefinitely after completing their prison sentences.
A Minnesota lawmaker says the state’s largest psychiatric hospital will soon run out of money without an emergency infusion.
Minnesota lawmakers are getting nowhere over how to resolve constitutional questions about the state’s sex offender treatment program, but the same can’t be said about the program’s costs. They’re going somewhere — up. About 50 new patients enter the program every year, a growth rate that threatens to swamp existing facilities in the next few years. A Senate committee on Thursday will review a request for $7.4 million this year to renovate and expand the St. Peter treatment center; another $30 million or more is on the drawing board for future growth there and in Moose Lake.
Minnesota senators who met Monday at the Capitol say they must act quickly to modify the state’s sex offender treatment program before a federal judge does it for them. The judge has said lawmakers must alter the state’s system of keeping sex offenders in indefinite custody after they finish prison terms, or risk a ruling that it’s unconstitutional. Former Minnesota Chief Justice Eric Magnuson heads a task force that’s working to revise Minnesota’s sex offender treatment rules. “The way you are operating, it does not work because nobody gets treated, and nobody gets out,” Magnuson said. “And it is, in effect, a life sentence.”
While state and federal politicians consider changes to gun laws, a group of Minnesota lawmakers want to improve mental health care in schools.