MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Officials with the Department of Human Services disagree with experts who say a man in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program should be immediately released, arguing in court documents Wednesday that he is still a danger to the public and still in need of treatment.
However, the executive director of the program that houses the state’s most dangerous sex offenders has petitioned to move the man into a less-restrictive setting, where staff can come up with a plan to prepare him for eventual transition into society.
“A gradual and deliberate reintegration plan is critical to … success,” program executive director Nancy Johnston wrote in an affidavit. “Suddenly removing supervision, close monitoring, and structure could negatively impact his treatment progress, successful adjustment, and public safety.”
Attorneys for the state filed their documents Wednesday after U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ordered them to show why this client, identified as E.T., should not be “immediately and unconditionally” released after experts found little evidence showing he was a risk. The state will present oral arguments at a June 25 hearing.
The court-appointed experts are evaluating whether patients are receiving appropriate treatment. The evaluations are part of a class-action lawsuit in which residents claim the program is unconstitutional because it keeps sex offenders locked up indefinitely. Nearly 700 sex offenders have been committed to high-security facilities in Moose Lake or St. Peter after their prison terms were completed. Only one patient has been successfully released, with provisions, since 1994.
Nathan Brennaman, an attorney for the state, wrote that E.T.’s commitment is constitutional because it’s reasonably related to the purpose of commitment - public safety and treatment.
Experts found E.T. was committed to the program at age 19 due to offenses he committed between the ages of 10 and 14, and has no adult criminal history. The experts said it appeared he completed sex offender treatment before he was placed in the program and it was “unlikely that he requires additional intervention in this regard.”
Brennaman wrote that the experts’ report is based on several misunderstandings. He said E.T. did not complete treatment and instead tried to coast through the process. In addition, while the experts found E.T. could live with family, program officials learned E.T.’s adoptive father doesn’t currently have a room for him.
Brennaman said E.T. has a history of violence, breaking rules and sexual behavior that was downplayed by the experts, and that at times, he did not feel his sexual contact with one victim was completely wrong because he wanted the victim to feel the pain he felt as a sex abuse victim himself.
Officials also said E.T. has failed to progress in treatment because of his impulsive conduct and behavior that included three assaults in the last year.
E.T. has been institutionalized for more than 10 years and has never lived on his own or had a job, Brennaman wrote. Johnston said E.T. hasn’t mastered skills necessary to live independently in the community.
Johnston petitioned to move E.T. to the program’s community preparation services, which is outside the secure perimeter but still supervised and prepares clients for transition into society. The review board that hears such petitions will take up E.T.’s case July 2.
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