MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A state task force is recommending a major overhaul of Minnesota’s laws governing sex offenders with a goal of creating more options to get them out of forced, indefinite treatment.

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The panel, chaired by a former Supreme Court chief justice, released recommendations to the Legislature on Monday. It says the Minnesota Sex Offender Program “captures too many people and keeps many of them too long.”

There are about 700 sex offenders currently being treated in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

The job of the Task Force was to suggest recommendations that improve the effectiveness and rationality of that commitment system.

Mark Ostrem is the Olmstead County Attorney, and a member of the task force.

“It’s been a very arduous process and I have to say from my perspective, I’m pleased with it,” Ostrem said.

The recommendations detail what is wrong with the current system and what needs to change — everything from the process of having someone civically committed to when they should be released.

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Ostrem said there are cases when someone does not need to be behind bars.

“For example, we know there are a few people up there who are in an assisted living situation, do they still need to be behind razor wire? Or could we continue their treatment in lesser restrictive environments?” he said.

Ostrem said the task force also recommends the creation of a panel that would automatically review offenders for supervised release.

“Identifying people as they progress through the treatment phase, and identifying them as having reduced their risk, to a point where they could be in a less restrictive setting, outside the razor wire,” he said.

The recommendations will be turned over to the Commissioner of the Department of Health, and ultimately lawmakers will take up the issue in the next session.

To read the full report, click here (.pdf).

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