700 Minn. sex offender program patients must undergo evaluation - KMSP-TV

Judge orders evaluation of Minnesota's 700 civilly-committed sex offenders

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

A federal judge says "the time for legislative action is now" to reform the "clearly broken" Minnesota Sex Offender Program that has released just one patient in its 20 years of existence.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank has ordered all of the roughly 700 patients in the MSOP to undergo evaluation by a panel of 4 experts. Read the full order at http://bit.ly/1jNhQiq

Frank didn't award any monetary damages to the MSOP patients in their lawsuit against the state, but said the case "easily survives dismissal."

The lawsuit argues the sex offender program keeps its patients in prison-like confinement and gives no realistic opportunity for release.

The evaluations will begin with patients currently living in the least restrictive environments.

In Minnesota, there are two types of sex offenders. The vast majority are sent to prison and released, while others are sent to treatment after prison under the civil commitment process at about four times the cost of prison.

MINNESOTA SEX OFFENDER PROGRAM STATS

- 698 people enrolled

- 52 clients convicted as juveniles

- 19 years in existence

- 1 person discharged

- $73 million spent by state each year to treat sex offenders

The Department of Human Services said it needs time to analyze the judge's order, but they are urging the Legislature to act on MSOP reforms in the interim.

"The judge's order just became public today and we will need time to thoroughly understand and analyze it. Our analysis will determine the resources that will be needed, both financial and other, to carry out the order and work with the experts chosen by the court," Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said in a statement. "The ruling raises questions about the future of Minnesota's civil commitment system for sex offenders, and we urge the full Legislature, on a bipartisan basis, to address this issue in the coming weeks and months."

READ MORE: Panel's 3 recommended changes to Minnesota sex offender law

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