A federal judge ordered Minnesota Thursday to give sex offenders in a state treatment program a chance to be released, but did not require the state to free anyone immediately.
Judge Donovan Frank told state officials they have 30 days to evaluate the public risk some specific offenders present and 60 days to draw up a detailed plan for evaluating the rest of the 700-plus in treatment. All must be evaluated within a year.
If followed, Frank’s plan could produce the first releases from the program in its two decades of existence.
The state appealed Frank’s ruling less than four hours after he released it and asked that the order not be enforced until the appeal can be decided.
Gov. Mark Dayton said that the state program is constitutional, adding that Frank’s plan would rush decisions about offenders and could result in dangerous people being freed.
“They committed horrible crimes and they repeatedly committed horrible crimes,” Dayton said of the sex offenders being held in prison-like conditions while being treated at state hospitals.
Dayton’s human services commissioner said the state already is making changes similar to ones Frank wants.
“We’re proceeding, but not as swiftly as he is talking about…” Lucinda Jesson said. “We are doing it in a way that is very thoughtful”
SOURCE: Don Davis and Robb Jeffries
Forum News Service