Time to review sex offender program

Minnesota, like many other states, has a program that commits dangerous sexual predators, those most likely to offend again, to a state treatment program for sex offenders once their prison terms have been served.

The program has become an indefinite imprisonment. In the 19-year history of the program only one person has been released from custody. Currently, 690 people remain in custody, held in an increasingly expensive program long after their sentences have been served.

It is hard for a prisoner to win release. First, they have to convince the doctors and psychiatrists that they are no longer a danger. Then a state review panel has to recommend their release. The review panel includes the governor, who sets himself up for political opponents any time he supports the release of an offender, as happened this fall. Dayton has not opposed the release of Thomas Duvall, a convicted multiple rapist who meets the criteria for release. State Rep. Kurt Zellers, who plans to run against Dayton next November, has criticized the governor for that stance.

Meanwhile, federal judges are urging state legislators to review and revise the program, or they will do it for us.

Legislators should do so this upcoming session. It is important to protect society from dangerous, predatory criminals who are likely to commit more rapes, but it is also important to observe the rights of those who have served their time and have shown they can be moved back into society. It’s not right to impose an unofficial life sentence on them.


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