Minnesota faces growing pressure from a federal judge to overhaul a program that keeps a higher percentage of sexual offenders locked up after they have served time in prison than similar programs in other states do, says the Wall Street Journal. But Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday suspended his administration’s initial changes to the program, saying that taking steps without the backing of the legislature on an issue rife with concerns around public safety had become too political.
“This is going to be an issue that will be seized upon and abused by some who don’t mind scaring the people of Minnesota. We just can’t proceed in that environment,” said Dayton, who faces re-election next year. Minnesota has long had a program to commit to treatment offenders deemed sexually dangerous or psychopathic after they have served out their prison sentences. The number committed has more than tripled in the past decade to nearly 700. Only one offender has been released from the program. As a result, Minnesota has the highest number of civilly committed sex offenders per capita in an annual survey of 17 states with such programs, far surpassing bigger states such as New Jersey, New York and Illinois.