Minnesota officials expect costly sex offender program fix

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers emerged from a private meeting with a federal judge on Monday with little consensus on how and even whether to forge ahead with changes to a state program confining sex offenders that the court has deemed unconstitutional.

Joined by more than a dozen Minnesota lawmakers as well as other state officials to discuss the program’s future, Dayton said no decisions were made during the three-hour conference with Judge Donovan Frank. Frank is prodding the state to take action to rework the program, which indefinitely houses more than 700 offenders considered “sexually dangerous” and a threat to reoffend, before he requires action.

The conference, held in private despite media protests, stems from a class-action lawsuit brought by offenders who have been committed to the program by a court apart from any criminal sanctions.

Email newsletter signup

Dayton said he still believes the program is constitutional and is looking for an avenue to appeal Frank’s June decision after the judge comes out with a directive telling the state what must be done. That order is expected this fall.

“I believe he understands the sensitivity of the matter, the potential for controversy and most importantly the need to protect public safety and security,” Dayton said of the judge, adding that achieving a legislative solution could be difficult given election-year politics that will be in play in 2016.