Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

MSOP residents suggest changes

 


Clients at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake and St. Peter have presented a list of changes, through attorney Dan Gustafson, that they would like to see to the program.

In June, federal Judge Donovan Frank ruled the MSOP was unconstitutional and changes had to be made.

Gov. Mark Dayton and Lucinda Jesson of the Minnesota Department of Human Services have stated the program is constitutional.

However, plans are now being made to change the program.

“We’re spending about $120,000 a year per person to put them in a treatment facility as opposed to a prison,” said state Rep. Tina Liebling, who served on a task force to investigate the program. “And if we are going to do that, part of the treatment has to be looking to see if your treatment is doing what it is supposed to do.”

According to information on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website, there are over 700 sex offenders who have been civilly committed to the program. Over 400 are housed in the Moose Lake facility, where they complete the first two phases of the program, and 259 are housed in St. Peter. The ages of the offenders range from 21 to 93.

Gov. Dayton also said Judge Frank did not believe the sex offenders would be released into the community immediately. According to news reports, much of the meeting between Gov. Dayton and Judge Frank earlier in August centered around less restrictive settings for certain populations of offenders, such as juveniles, those with disabilities and the elderly. The lower-risk offenders included those with cognitive disabilities and those who required nursing home care.

Gov. Dayton has proposed changes that could cost $20 million per year. Those changes included risk assessments and less restricted housing.

But Gov. Dayton and Attorney General Lori Swanson could appeal Judge Frank’s ruling. The appeal would delay action on the judge’s ruling.

The Legislature won’t be meeting until next March. A special session may be necessary to adopt changes, Gov. Dayton has said. But an appeal would delay the process.

In a news report in the Star Tribune, Gov. Dayton said those who make the decisions have to think about public safety.

“I don’t ever want to look a spouse or parent in the eye and say that, because of actions that were taken, that person’s family member was subjected to the kind of atrocities that we’ve seen on the record for individuals that are in this program,” he said.

 

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