ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers moved with unusual speed on Monday to close a legal loophole that they say might allow early releases for sex offenders and people with mental illness.
Lawmakers are moving quickly after a recent court decision to release a sex offender who admitted he molested more than 30 children. After he completed treatment in Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program.
Minnesota currently confines hundreds of dangerous sex offenders at two state-run treatment facilities. And a court decision releasing one of them without conditions spurred lawmakers to action.
“We believe the court was wrong,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Warren Limmer said.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says the Court decision puts Minnesota’s safety “in jeopardy.”
“Violent sex offenders and mentally ill people should not be released until we are absolutely sure they are no longer a threat to our community,” Limmer said.
There are 140 sex offenders now confined to state treatment facilities, and several hundred more who are mentally ill and dangerous. Without swift state action, they say all of them could apply to be released soon.
“That means they go from being in a supervised setting to being completely unsupervised, and free to go where they want to,” Chuck Johnson with the Minnesota Department of Human Services said.
Conditional release for dangerous sex offenders who complete treatment means state security housing, ankle bracelets and 24-hour monitoring. Without action, none of those conditions would apply.
“This is not a population that should be released quickly and in one fell swoop. This is a population that should be considered over a gradual period of time,” Johnson said.
This new law is now on a fast track at the Minnesota Legislature. The Commissioner of Human Services tells us if nothing is done, Minnesota courts could approve the release of dangerous sex offenders within days or weeks.