Minnesota Sex-Offender Lockup Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge has declared Minnesota’s sex offender treatment program unconstitutional, giving the state’s political leaders one last chance to propose solutions that would protect the “fundamental rights” of more than 700 people locked up indefinitely before he imposes remedies himself.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank sided with patients who were civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program after completing their prison sentences. He agreed that given the program’s 20-year history, no one in it has “any realistic hope of ever getting out,” even if they do well in treatment and are at low risk of committing new crimes. Instead, he said, it’s undisputed that some residents no longer meet the criteria for commitment or could be released into less-restrictive settings.

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