Stacks of documents on sex offenders climb the walls of a makeshift “war room” at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, says the St. Cloud (Mn.) Times. They contain details about the lives, crimes, and psychological assessments of the state’s most dangerous sex offenders. It’s been a busy place since North Dakota college student Dru Sjodin was abducted in November from the parking lot of a mall where she worked. A released sex offender is charged with abducting and killing her. About 16 people a year were committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program from 1991 to 2003. From Jan. 1 to the end of April, the program already had added 15 offenders.
The rise in commitments creates a burden for attorneys, courts and state agencies. “Quite frankly, there is increased scrutiny and publicity around the issue,” said Kevin Goodno, commissioner of the Department of Human Services, the state agency responsible for housing committed offenders. “County attorneys that once were hesitant now are pursuing many of these cases. The environment did change after (Dru) Sjodin.” Beginning in 2005, projections are that 42 offenders a year will be admitted into the sex offender program. Of the 223 offenders in the program, only one had progressed through treatment to a stage called provisional discharge. That offender was allowed to leave the facility with certain conditions. His release was revoked. A local attorney who represents sex offenders in commitment hearings knows there’s little chance of anyone getting out of the program anytime soon.