Among the major findings from the Legislative Auditor’s report and the Duluth News Tribune’s investigation of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program:
It's expensive.Started in 1995, the program’s cost has grown from $25 million in 2005 to an estimated $67 million in 2011. By comparison, the cost to run the Moose Lake prison in 2010, which has more than double the population, was $25 million. Since 2005, about $370 million has been spent on the sex offender program.The average cost to house an offender at MSOP is $120,000 a year, about three times the cost of prison incarceration.Almost half of MSOP’s costs — 45 percent — went to security for the facility. Only 11 percent is used on treatment.
Its population is growing at a staggering rate.The number of commitments jumped from 149 in 2000 to 575 in 2010. That increase was mostly a response to the murder of Dru Sjodin by Alfonso Rodriguez. Before 2003, an average of 26 commitments were made a year. Since 2004, the average number of commitments per year is 157.The population is expected to double by 2020. If no changes are made to the commitment process, the facilities are expected to run out of bed space by 2013. In 10 years, there could be an estimated 1,216 committed offenders.The current population of committed sex offenders in Minnesota is the highest in the nation on a per-capita basis, and the third-highest total population in the country, behind California and Florida.When faced with a sex offender with a high chance to reoffend who needs adequate supervision, judges often have no other option than to enter the offender into the MSOP program.
Standards can vary on who is locked up.Because the number of commitments per capita varies significantly by county, Minnesota is committing some sex offenders who probably have a lower risk of reoffending than some sex offenders who are released.Some offenders at MSOP have not been convicted of a physical sex crime, though it’s difficult to track how many. Others were committed because of juvenile sex crime offenses against other juveniles and have no adult records. A total of 53 clients have been committed who have no adult convictions for criminal sexual conduct.
Once committed, you're unlikely to ever regain your freedom.No one has ever been permanently discharged from MSOP. Eighteen have died while committed.Unlike most other states, Minnesota does not require MSOP to file reports to the courts regarding an offender’s progress and if they should still be committed.Progress reports given to clients are not always clear about what the client needs to advance in treatment, even when the client is meeting all his goals.
It's a violent place to receive treatment.Moose Lake police responded to more than 260 calls for service to the facility from January 2010 to March 2011, including 88 assaults and 21 sexual assaults. In comparison, the same department responded to two at the Moose Lake prison during the same time.
Its mission to reintegrate sex offenders to the community has not been met.Only one person has ever been conditionally released. That person violated terms of his release, was sent back to MSOP and later died there.
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