August 9, 2013

Deaths at Minnesota detention site bringing public scrutiny

State legislator calls SVP practices Unconstitutional 

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.


"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.

Moose Lake
In the wake of a federal class-action lawsuit by detainees, a federal task force recommended a number of changes to the program. But the state legislature is balking at implementing changes, which could include setting up alternative placement facilities and wrestling some power away from the Moose Lake treatment bureaucracy by giving the courts more discretion and mandating bi-annual case reviews by independent forensic experts.

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)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

There is something seriously wrong with Rep. Tina Liebling for several reasons; 1) she has too much common sense, 2) she is obviously not worried about her political career as speaking out about this atrocity is seen by other legislators as being "soft on crime" and 3) locking someone up at the cost of $500 per day per person for 50 years and having them repeat the same treatment program over and over makes sense, right?
I applaud this lady who has the guts to stand up and say enough! Let's do what our constituents empowered us to do and that is make "educated" decisions based on empirical evidence which in this arena there is none to suggest the need.
Vicki Henry
Women Against Registry dot com