Lawmakers Meet on Future of Minnesota Sex Offender Program

Posted at: 01/15/2014 9:06 PM
Updated at: 01/15/2014 11:11 PM
By: Laura Lee

(ABC 6 News) -- One big issue facing lawmakers this session is the future of the state's controversial sex offender program.

With a deadline looming next month lawmakers are forced to take action.

"Anytime you do anything with sex offenders other than increase their sentences, other than be tougher, its very difficult politically," says Representative Tina Liebling, D-Rochester.
That was Representative Liebling back in November.  Wednesday, state lawmakers say inaction is not an option this session.

"I believe that there seriously is an issue simply because people don't get out," says Chief Justice Eric Magnuson,"it can not be that no one should ever be released, or if that's what it is, then we say that right up front."

Magnuson is the chair of a task force ordered by a federal judge to make recommendations to the sex offender program.
He and others made recommendations in December and say reform needs to be made and a federal judge is giving lawmakers until February 16th.
Among the recommendations:  a centralized screening process for enrollment, allowing more options for placement during trial and more frequent judicial review of cases.

"There is a consequence for doing nothing, the consequence may create a MSOP program that none of us may like if a federal court is the instrument" says Senator Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.

"Courts are not designed to make public policy, that's the role of the legislature."

Limmer says doing nothing poses a greater risk, because a federal judge could rule the program unconstitutional meaning all of the sex offenders could be released.

 You can watch ABC 6's investigation into the constitutionality of the sex offender program here: Minnesota Sex Offender Program Part 1 Minnesota Sex Offender Program Part 2