1st sex offender to be freed unconditionally from program

Published 9:35 am Thursday, September 8, 2016

ST. PAUL — The first person is set to be released from Minnesota’s sex offender program without conditions after the state’s Human Services commissioner reversed her position on his discharge.

Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper says she has decided against challenging a ruling from state Supreme Court appeals panel that releases 26-year-old Eric Terhaar. He has been confined under the Minnesota Sex Offender Program for six years based on acts he committed as a juvenile.

The Star Tribune says Piper’s decision means that a person will be able to leave the program established two decades ago and return to society without state supervision. The program has been criticized for confining offenders without the hope of unconditional release.

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A federal judge last year ruled the program violates the U.S. Constitution by confining offenders indefinitely without legal protections.