MN: Study: Minnesota’s sex offender civil commitment system is ‘failed investment’

Source: 4/24/24

The state is spending more than $110 million this year on a sex offender program that locks up about 730 people. A new report calls for an end to the 30-year-old system.

Minnesota involuntarily commits more people for sex offenses than anywhere else in the nation per capita, but authors of a new report say the more than $100 million-a-year program fails to meaningfully address sexual violence or recognize the humanity of those it locks up.

Twenty states civilly commit sex offenders. Among those, Minnesota is “notorious” for the number of people it confines, the duration of their commitment and a low rate of community reintegration, according to the report released Wednesday by the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

It recommends lawmakers sunset the program that holds more than 730 people and put the money toward community and victim support, sex violence prevention, resolving sex violence crimes and restorative practices.

“This is a very expensive intervention and doesn’t have very much of an impact on sexual violence,” said the center’s Director Eric Janus, a longtime critic of the program. “Even among the 20 states that do this, we are doing it in a way that confines too many people for much too long. That’s a civil rights issue, of course. But it’s also a resource allocation issue.”

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), which has facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter, has faced years of backlash, primarily focused on civil rights concerns. Detainees sued in 2011, prompting a protracted legal battle over whether the system is constitutional. A U.S. District Court judge deemed it unconstitutional in 2015, but the decision was later reversed and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the system.

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This, in my humble opinion, is THE best way to challenge these schemes. By pointing out that not only are they ineffective (including the entire registry) but by also pointing out the amount of money that is being dumped into the programs…and where is would be better spent. I think Director Eric Janus hit the nail squarly on the head. There have to be alternative ideas put into peoples heads as substitution for sex offense policies that don’t work. Whether these alternative would be better or not. They must be suggested to get people to see it might be a better political argument to spend taxpayer money otherwise.

The cost per “patient” at California’s Coalinga State Hospital now sits at more than $300K/year. That money is NOT spent on their well-being or comfort. Certainly not their liberty. The “Hospital” has a director with a high school education. The corruption and the subterfuge and the scandals are continuous. Medical care is a disgrace. Recently, it was discovered that heart monitors that had been surgically implanted in some of the patients had not, nor had ever, been sending out their signals for continuous, off-site monitoring because the facility didn’t want to spend the money on patient health. These stories are legion and I’ve been hearing them for twenty years now. Nothing ever gets done.

Do they know how many shovel ready projects could use the $110M annually in the forlorn state of MN instead of chasing an idea that is an abject failure with an ROI of zip while keeping a bloated state payroll with these employees?

Governor Waltz,
Tear down this inhumane system that’s been a dismal failure and cost your state and others hundreds of millions of dollars that could have been spent elsewhere. Keeping Americans locked up for something that they might do all based on myths isn’t Minnesota Nice is it.

I find it sad that this organization focuses much of its argument on the money. That they feel that the best way to get people, “On board” with their opposition to this is by pointing out how much it costs, how little that money buys, and how much better it could be spent. That is truely a sad commentary on our society.

“We should stop engaging in these inhumane, cruel, ineffective and completely unnecessary violations of civil and human rights because they are too expensive!”

Soooooo…. the torture pogrom is too expensive, and THAT is why we should stop doing it?

I completely agree that this is a great tactic to use. This approach is more likely to produce results than most, maybe any, others. People don’t like seeing tax money wasted, especially if after they waste the money the wasters ask for more. That’s the sad truth of it!

Unfortunately before the people of MN come to that conclusion, there may be a few rounds of…”Let’s just make the torture pogrom cheaper, so we can better afford it!” That’s usually what happens, round after round after round of that, until we’ve reduced the pogrom down to the cheapest version we can get away with!

Just because this is probably the best tactic to take doesn’t mean that this isn’t a sad commentary on our society. It can, in fact, be both things!

When I read articles like this it fills me with both optimism as well as a wave of despondency. The overall opinion of legislators is slowly changing but it’s at a snails pace. Minnesota leads the way in absolute narrow mindedness with their treatment programs for people convicted of a sex offense. History is not going to look too kindly at the way society treats PFRs.