Citing the high cost of indefinite civil commitment for Minnesota sex offenders, two influential lawmakers will propose a shift to longer prison terms, coupled with intensive — but cheaper — treatment, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The legislators will propose a mental health review court, a move aimed to standardize the civil commitment process for sex offenders and reduce political pressures on local prosecutors and judges, which can be intense in rural communities.
Sen. Warren Limmer, Rep. Tony Cornish, and other legislators spent the past four months reviewing the public safety and civil liberties issues surrounding the more than 600 patients being held indefinitely in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. “The cost is just tremendous, more than $330 a day, as opposed to keeping these offenders in a corrections setting for about $70 a day,” Limmer said. “We intend to stay focused on safety, on cost and on the constitutional issues, [but] holding these individuals longer in prison makes sense rather than paying the high cost of civil commitment.” ast spring, Legislative Auditor James Nobles found that the cost of treating Minnesota’s sex offenders could be drastically reduced by creating alternative, highly supervised programs similar to those adopted in New York, Texas and Wisconsin. Minnesota is one of 20 states with civil commitment programs, and in 2010 had the nation’s highest number of committed sex offenders per capita.