Inmates suffer injustice at MSOP

Sex offenders should not be indefinitely detained; rather, they should be rehabilitated.

by Ronald Dixon

The Minnesota Legislature was able to accomplish many tasks over its last few sessions, but one issue that it failed to adequately address is the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

Many individuals convicted as sexual predators are sent to the facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter to be rehabilitated and, when they are ready, integrated back into society.

In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the roughly 700 clients, who are currently being held in these facilities for indefinite detention, which the lawsuit argues is unconstitutional. MSOP has released only one individual since 1994. It promises to free convicts but fails to let inmates back into society — even after they serve lengthy terms and show no signs of reoffending.

A court hearing is scheduled in February to decide whether some of the inmates should be unconditionally released. However, additional legislative action could streamline the process and guarantee justice for these inmates.

Legislators should make MSOP reforms a top priority during the 2015 session. An expert jury panel recently proposed reviewing inmates on a case-by-case basis and establishing a timetable to release these individuals upon their arrival to the facilities. These policies would ensure justice for these ostracized Minnesotans.

If one believes in jurisprudence, governmental fiscal responsibility and constitutional rights, then they should demand that state leaders act upon this important issue next year.