Frustrated by legislative inaction, the federal judge who found Minnesota's sex offender program unconstitutional threatened a “more forceful solution” if state leaders fail to implement immediate reforms, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In a harshly worded order, Judge Donovan Frank of St. Paul called on the state to correct systemic problems with the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), which locks up about 720 sex offenders who have completed their prison terms but are deemed unsafe for public release. Frank gave the state until Sept. 21 to file proposals, and scheduled a hearing for Sept. 30. While Frank did not say he would order the release of sex offenders, his order suggested that events could force him to take dramatic action to protect the constitutional rights of those being held at two secure treatment centers.
Critics have said the system amounts to unconstitutional indefinite detention. “Any delay by the state to prepare for the inevitable relief to be imposed by the court in light of the previously determined constitutional violations would only increase the risk to public safety,” Frank wrote. The order comes just days after he summoned Gov. Mark Dayton and more than a dozen legislators and other public officials for a closed-door meeting to attempt to reach a consensus on ways to bring the program up to constitutional standards. The meeting was a failure: Although Dayton made several proposals, most of the legislators brought few ideas and they departed several hours later without agreeing on a course of action.