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Government

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Appellate court says Minnesota’s sex offender program is constitutional

Should sex offenders who have served their sentences be forced into unending treatment programs? The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals says it’s okay.

Chris Serres of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

A federal appeals court in Saint Louis has declared that Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program is constitutional — handing a major victory to the state but potentially derailing long-awaited reforms to its system of indefinite detention for sex offenders.

In a decision released Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court ruling and found that Minnesota’s system of committing sex offenders beyond their prison terms serves a “legitimate interest” in protecting citizens from dangerous sexual predators.

The ruling is a major setback for civil rights attorneys and a host of lawmakers who have spent much of the past five years pressing for reforms that would put offenders on a faster path toward release from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP). The appellate panel essentially has given Minnesota’s program a clean bill of health, relieving immediate pressure on state officials to make major reforms to a program that has long been criticized as inhumane.

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