A lawsuit against the state over its sex offender treatment program may continue, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank has ruled. Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to survive a motion to dismiss, he said in a 75-page order.
“Even assuming, without deciding, that the … “shocks the conscience” standard applies to Plaintiffs’ right to treatment claims, when taken together with the allegations regarding the punitive nature of confinement and the lack of meaningful opportunity for release, Plaintiffs have, at a minimum, raised a serious question as to whether state action with respect to the class members committed to MSOP is ‘truly egregious and extraordinary,'” Frank wrote.
The judge did dismiss Count X, an equal protection claim based on the initial commitment. Frank said that the plaintiffs did not allege that the defendants were responsible for their original commitment.
Frank denied the plaintiffs’ request for a declaratory judgment that the Minnesota statutes governing civil commitment and treatment of sex offenders are “unconstitutional as written and as applied,” because it is all but impossible to be released. Frank said judgment on that issue is premature and the motion was denied without prejudice.
“As is evident from the law cited throughout this opinion, Minnesota may not constitutionally confine individuals at MSOP for punishment or deterrent purposes. Given the prison-like conditions described by Plaintiffs, and the lack of treatment and essentially no-exit regime alleged in this case, it may well be that, with a fully developedrecord, the Court will find the totality of the MSOP system to be unacceptably and unconstitutionally punitive. … the Court will not hesitate to change course with respect to the relief sought by Plaintiffs should discovery and expert review reveal evidentiary support for Plaintiffs’ claims.
And, Frank asked the Legislature to act. “The politicians of this great State must now ask themselves if they will act to revise a system that is clearly broken, or stand idly by and do nothing, simply awaiting Court intervention.”