Two back-to-back deaths at Minnesota's draconian Moose Lake facility have prompted new calls for reform of the United States' largest per capita preventive detention apparatus. More than 600 men are being indefinitely warehoused behind razor wire at Moose Lake, after having served prison terms for sexual offending. Only one has ever been released.
Yesterday, a state legislator publicly decried the state's current civil detention practices as Unconstitutional, in an interview on Minnesota Public Radio.
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW (7 MINUTES)
"Minnesota just can't continue to … lock people up with no hope of release. It isn't Constitutional, and I think there's wide recognition of that fact," said Rep. Tina Liebling, who is leading reform efforts.
Liebling said that out of the 20 U.S. states with laws allowing civil incapacitation of dangerous sex offenders after they have completed their prison terms, no other state has a "one-size-fits-all" procedure that doesn't allow for any hope of release.
"We can't hold people for their entire lives because we are worried about what they might do in the future," she told reporter Cathy Wurzer. "Unless we're prepared to lock up everybody who might pose any kind of risk … we need to get better at dealing with people as individuals … [and not solely based on] what they did 10 or 15 or 20 years ago."
Liebling expressed optimism about increasing public interest and knowledge stemming from the class-action lawsuit and recent deaths, which included one suicide and one of unexplained causes. "This is definitely something the public needs to be aware of…. People need to know that there are sex offenders living among us, and most of them are doing so successfully."
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Related blog posts:
"Most civilly detained sex offenders would not reoffend, study finds: Other new research finds further flaws with actuarial methods in forensic practice" (July 18, 2013)
Blogger urges new paradigm for sex offenders (Feb. 23, 2012)
Challenge to Minnesota commitment gains ground (Sept. 23, 2012)