A group of men at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program’s Moose Lake facility have ended their hunger strike after nearly two weeks.
The group went on strike Jan. 21, demanding a “clear path” for release from the program, which has facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter, where “treatment is a death sentence” because despite serving their prison sentences, they’re remanded to the facilities for an unspecified amount of time, a news release says.
The group of about a dozen men called off their hunger strike Wednesday night and, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), which runs the program, they’re all eating and drinking again.
They ended the strike after DHS Commissioner Jodi Harpstead met virtually on Tuesday with advocates of the strikers and agreed to hold monthly meetings between the strikers and program leaders, but not Harpstead, to discuss their primary concern of having a “clear path” for release from the program and its treatment centers.
“I have agreed to these discussions out of concern that some of the strikers would cause themselves serious harm, and I believe that no harm will come from us listening to what they have to say,” Harpstead said in a statement.
Details regarding the meetings are still being worked out, but DHS has agreed “in principle” to hold listening sessions that will start this month and go through May.
It will also develop a report about the program with recommendations based on the discussions from the listening sessions, DHS said.
“The only promise I can make is that we will engage in conversation with clients and their families,” Harpstead said in a statement.