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Minnesota Sex Offender Program Is Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled Wednesday morning that Minnesota’s controversial system of confining convicted sex offenders violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) is unconstitutional because it fails to provide adequate protections for civilly committed offenders, including regular assessments of their risk level and access to less-restrictive treatment alternatives in the community. 

“The overwhelming evidence at trial established that Minnesota’s civil commitment scheme is a punitive system that segregates and indefinitely detains a class of potentially dangerous individuals without the safeguards of the criminal justice system,” Frank wrote.

The ruling is expected to unleash a series of monumental reforms at the two-decade-old program, which has long been criticized as inhumane for confining offenders for indefinite periods after they have already served their prison terms.

However, Gov. Mark Dayton signaled in a statement released early Wednesday that his administration is prepared to resist specific reforms.

Read more in the Star Tribune