MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A federal judge is scheduled to rule Wednesday on the constitutionality of Minnesota’s sex offender program.

Sex offenders sued the state in 2011 because almost no one has been discharged.

More than 700 sex offenders are housed at Moose Lake and St. Peter. They are behind the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s sex offender program after being indefinitely committed after completing a prison sentence.

“The judge is likely going to be asking is that really a civil commitment program or is this another form of punishment?” William Mitchell Law School Dean Eric Janus said.

He questions whether it is the best use of prevention dollars. The twenty-some-year-old program costs taxpayers $120,000 a year per offender.

“This is a very expensive program. It’s $90 million a year,” Janus said. “From the perspective of the tax payer and getting the best effect from our taxpayer dollar, you don’t want to lock up people who don’t need that level of confinement.”

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank is expected to order an overhaul, including an evaluation of every offender and the eventual release of others. Offenders could even get individual payouts.

Janus believes the ruling will affect us all.

“This has to do with how good our program of preventing sexual violence is. We could have a better program if we spent our money more wisely,” Janus said. “Second of all, we all should care about constitutional rights. I know it’s hard to care about the constitutional rights of sex offenders, but those rights are our rights. We all should care about them.”

The ruling is expected late Wednesday morning.

Jennifer Mayerle

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