MN sex offender laws need update

In St. Paul, a federal trial is underway to determine whether it’s constitutional to indefinitely detain convicted sex offenders even after they have served their terms in prison, according to the Star Tribune.

It’s expected that the trial will find the practice unconstitutional. As a result, Minnesota legislators are already working to introduce changes to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program by expanding community reintegration programs and contacting more third-party housing agencies.

Critics, however, worry that these changes fail to address underlying systemic problems. For example, MSOP has only provisionally discharged three people in its history. The equivalent organizations in Wisconsin and California have released 118 and more than 180, respectively.

Additionally, MSOP evaluates detainees on a rolling basis to determine whether they’re qualified for release. However, at the current rate of inspection, it will take between 30 and 60 years to inspect all the detainees. To expedite the process, MSOP has requested more state funding in order to hire more evaluators.

We understand that sex offenders are an extremely sensitive subject, but we feel that public discomfort discussing the issue is one of the primary factors that have led to a stagnation of the program. Oftentimes a society’s taboo subjects are the ones that need to be discussed the most.

To that end, while we encourage the state to allocate more funding to MSOP, we also feel that a societal paradigm shift will need to occur before problems like this one will fully disappear.