Sex Offender Treatment Program
Minnesota lawmakers who have long put off large-scale changes to the state’s treatment program for sex offenders are under even more pressure to act this session, as a federal judge could soon rule on whether the program is constitutional.
A federal judge has denied the state’s request for a jury trial in a challenge to Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program. Instead, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled Tuesday that he’ll decide the first phase of the case, which will determine whether the state’s law on civil commitments of sex offenders is constitutional. The bench trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9.
A Feb. 9 trial date has been set for a constitutional challenge to Minnesota’s sex offenders treatment program. U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank set the date Thursday during a hearing in St. Paul on the case.
A case about the constitutionality of the Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program is heading to federal court. Attorney Dan Gustafson is representing 24-year-old Eric Terhaar. Both Terhaar and 48-year-old Rhonda Bailey are both trying to get released from the program.
An attorney for officials who run Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program says the way experts are evaluating the program makes it impossible for them to issue a report favorable to the state.
Minnesota legislative leaders sniped at each other Friday for a lack of progress in fixing the state’s sex offender treatment program despite a federal judge’s urging for fast action to correct it. Lawmakers acknowledged that no talks on the subject have occurred in about a month.
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.”
The three-judge panel decided on Friday to hold a special hearing in February to determine whether 58-year-old convicted rapist Thomas Duvall should be released from sex offender treatment.
The executive director of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program is retiring.