"Judge rules Minnesota sex offender program unconstitutional" Associated Press June 18, 2015
MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program is unconstitutional, saying it violates the ‘‘fundamental rights’’ of more than 700 people locked up indefinitely after completing their prison sentences.
US District Judge Donovan Frank sided with patients who were civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, and argued that they had little hope for freedom. In more than 20 years of existence, no one has been fully discharged from the program, even those thought to be at low risk of committing new crimes.
‘‘The Constitution protects individual rights even when they are unpopular,’’ Frank wrote.
The judge deferred immediate action, instead urging political leaders to bring proposed remedies to proceedings in August or he could impose his own.
The judge suggested at least a dozen remedies the state could propose, including the creation of alternate less restrictive facilities. He said he would appoint a special master to ensure compliance. He warned that failure to come up with an acceptable plan could lead him to order the closing of the St. Peter and Moose Lake facilities or extensive release of patients.
Minnesota has struggled for years with the rising costs of its policy on sex offenders, spending millions to expand and update the two facilities. But lawmakers, many fearful of appearing soft on crime, have resisted any substantive changes to the program.
Related: Minnesota School Field Trip
That's where the convicts are headed next.