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Sex offender civil commitment program needs more space

Paul Demko//January 19, 2011//

Sex offender civil commitment program needs more space

Paul Demko//January 19, 2011//

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The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is running out of space — again. The civil commitment program for sexual predators is seeking $7 million to renovate a facility in St. Peter and add 55 additional beds, according to a new report released by the Department of Human Services.

The 55-bed expansion would only be a stop-gap measure. The sex offender program will eventually be seeking $57 million in bonding dollars from the Legislature to add room for 400 more sexual deviants at its Moose Lake campus.

The MSOP has added patients at a stratospheric rate since 2003, following the high-profile murder of Dru Sjodin by a recently released sex offender. From 1995 to 2003, the program enrolled an average of 26 sex offenders per year. Since then the average annual increase in enrollment has swelled to 148. Enrollment is expected to plateau at about 50 additional offenders annually in the coming years.

There are currently more than 600 individuals in the MSOP. Nobody has ever been successfully treated and released, although DHS officials have indicated that a couple of patients are close to completing the program.

Costs associated with the MSOP have attracted greater scrutiny in recent years. Sex offenders who are civilly committed cost the state $120,000 annually for housing and treatment. That’s roughly four times the cost for offenders who are provided treatment in prison. Currently 80 percent of individuals involuntarily enrolled in the MSOP are participating in treatment, according to the report, a much higher rate than in past years.

Last year’s bonding bill included $47.5 million to expand the MSOP. That was slightly more than half of what Gov. Tim Pawlenty had requested.

Read the entire report here.

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