A court-ordered task force is recommending major changes to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program that "captures too many people and keeps many of them too long."
The panel released its recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature on Monday, led by the following changes:
1. Centralized, independent screening process
Rather than having sex offender commitment decisions made by local judges, the task force recommends the legislature establish a "centralized, professionally independent" screening unit that is not associated with the Department of Corrections or Department of Human Services.
This screening unit would develop and implement an assessment process to evaluate sex offenders who might meet the criteria for commitment to MSOP.
The task force also says the central screening unit should be "to the greatest extent possible, insulated from political influence."
2. Automatic case review
Anyone committed to the MSOP would have their case reviewed once every two years, automatically, without the need for an individual request.
3. State-provided defense attorneys
The task force also recommends defense attorneys be hired to represent potential MSOP patients in civil commitment proceedings, with the expense covered by the state.