June 28, 2011

Is sex offender program illegal?

6-28-2011 Minnesota:

Critics say mistreatment and an overriding, unspoken directive to keep clients locked away make the state program unconstitutional

To many former employees at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in Moose Lake, the unspoken reason that no client has ever been released is that’s the way state leaders and program administrators want it.

“They felt (the clients) couldn’t be cured,” said Nicci Trierweiler, a former security counselor at the facility and one of a dozen former employees who made similar comments to the News Tribune. “Most of the men that are in there will tell you, if you ask them, that they don’t think they’re going to get out of there. They will tell you that it’s a life sentence and they’ll be going out feet-first.”

“It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said another former security counselor, Jeremy Jatkola. “I don’t think the patients there are getting the treatment they should be doing.”

“The overriding directive is not to progress patients,” he added.

MSOP senior administrators deny those claims. But if the allegations are true, it’s a problem.

While supporters of MSOP argue that public safety is served by locking up sex offenders deemed to be sexually psychopathic, sexually dangerous or both, the stated purpose of MSOP isn’t to incarcerate but to rehabilitate.

Nearly all the resident offenders have served their prison or juvenile sentences and are committed for treatment at the facility for potential reintegration into the community. The sex offenders aren’t called inmates but patients or clients.

State and federal courts have held that the program is legal only if adequate treatment is provided. If not, the program could be found unconstitutional, which is what happened in the state of Washington in 2000. A federal court judge ordered the state to revise its program after finding it provided a punitive treatment environment and inadequate treatment, staffing and staff training.

A review by both the legislative auditor and the Duluth News Tribune has found many similar problems at MSOP: The treatment environment is violent and punitive toward offenders. Treatment averages six hours a week, and the program has had trouble hiring and keeping qualified staff. Some clinicians and therapists don’t have the educational backgrounds necessary to treat sex offenders.

And, among both current and former employees, there is a history of infighting and troubling behavior.

Those problems, along with the fact that no one ever has been permanently released from the program since it began in 1994, raises questions about whether MSOP is constitutional, said Eric Janus, dean of the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

When the program was created by the state Legislature and approved by the courts, Janus said, it was done with the understanding that offenders would eventually be treated and released.

“A legitimate program, among other things, releases people when they no longer need civil commitment, when they’re no longer dangerous enough to justify being locked up in a secure facility,” Janus said. “We know the program has not provided for that kind of a system.

“You have a picture, in my view, of an unconstitutional program,” he said. ..Source.. by Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune


Anonymous said...

They ( the politians ) have found the perfect way to make money and thats to house what they believe is a danger to the public to lock up human beings and ware house them for a period of time.But from what i can see the money might one day run out then what?.I believe that its the politians who need to be locked up and have the key thrown away.

Anonymous said...

It is painfully obvious from the fact that not a single "patient" (inmate) has been released in the program's 17-year history, that either the premise under which the program was created is a brazen lie or else the people who run the program are totally incompetent. In either case, it should be shut down.

Anonymous said...

All of the policy, law, and treatment of sex offenders throughout our country has been devised by psychologists,
criminologists, and professors of the social and behavioral sciences.
Our lawmakers have created volumes of laws and punishments based upon highly sujective theories.Static and dynamic indicators along with so called empirical data have been fully accepted as proof positive indiators of past,present,and future human behavior.Today our lawmakers don't even bother to review new evidence that could refute outdated data.
Our country's sex offender quagmire has become too big and politically correct to controll. In order to acctualize change in current policy,there absolutely must be a major paradigm shift.
And this shift will be initiated by the same group of people who devised it. Our mental health "PROFESSIONALS".