- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge is planning a trial to determine whether Iowa’s sex offender treatment program is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett said in an order Wednesday that he hopes to set the two-week trial for Nov. 28.

The case concerns sex offenders who completed prison sentences but are locked up at a state institution in Cherokee for treatment, based on findings that they’ll likely reoffend.

They’ve argued the program is unconstitutional because it doesn’t give them adequate treatment, and that they’re essentially serving life sentences because few offenders complete it. Testimony from employees has confirmed staffing shortages and cutbacks in treatment.

Bennett says the trial will determine whether the program violates constitutional standards, is punitive rather than therapeutic, and is the least restrictive way to treat sex offenders.

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