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Sex offender program reevaluated after class action suit

Sexual offenders in Wisconsin who are thought to suffer from mental impairment or who are deemed a threat to commit another sexually violent act may be committed indefinitely to a supervised institution upon release from prison. The sexual offender is eligible for release only when they are no longer found to be a danger to society. Known as the involuntary civil commitment law for sexual offenders, this legislation is upheld in Wisconsin, as well as several other states, including Minnesota.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is under investigation by a federal judge after a class action lawsuit was filed by the sex offenders in the program. The offenders argue that there is no treatment available within the program, and no guidelines for being released once committed.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has released one sex offender after the reasons for his civil commitment to the program are being challenged. The offender, who had served a prison sentence for sex crimes committed in 2008, was reported by a court-appointed psychologist to be 60 percent likely to commit another sexual offense. The Supreme Court, however, said that placing a statistical value on a person’s life was inappropriate. Before the man was committed to the program, he had found employment, purchased a vehicle, participated in a sex offender treatment program and stayed sober.

With changes being made to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, some are wondering whether Wisconsin officials will follow suit. Some believe that convicted sexual offenders should be given adequate rehabilitation and a reasonable chance to put their life back on track. A criminal defense attorney may be able to provide people with essential legal advice and help them to formulate a strong defense case.

Source: MPR News, “In rare move, high court reverses sex offender’s post-prison civil commitment,” Matt Sepic, Apr. 24, 2014.

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