A March 2011 report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor was critical of the state’s sex offender program.
“Basically they said that the sex offender program was not in meltdown, but it would be soon; it would meet the curve of capacity,” said Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder). “In other words we’re committing so many people that pretty soon we’re going to have to make a decision on what to do with millions of dollars in bonding and additional wings or places to put this people.
“We need to find a new solution for the commitment process, the treatment of sex offenders, how they get into the program, how they come out of it.”
Sponsored by Cornish, HF1577 would establish a sex offender policy task force. Passed 132-1 by the House, it goes to the Senate, where a sponsor is needed.
According to the auditor’s report, “We found that the state’s increased use of civil commitment for certain sex offenders has resulted in a significant growth in costs. We also found variations across the state in the use of civil commitment. We recommend improvements to the program used to treat civilly committed sex offenders and suggest the state consider supplementing its current approach to civil commitment of sex offenders with some less costly alternatives.”
The task force, whose membership would include legislators, state officials, law enforcement, attorneys and a privately employed sex offender treatment provider, would be charged with reporting back to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2012, including any proposed legislative changes.
Topics to be addressed include: sex offender sentencing, including the use of indeterminate sentencing; treatment in prison and the community; civil commitment, including less costly alternatives; best practices for supervising sex offenders; and community notification and registration, including the effectiveness or posting offender information on the Internet.
“This is an issue that really has to be addressed,” said Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls).