Local Expert Discusses Sex Offender Program Ruling

Christos Petsoulis of the Duluth Institute talks about offender rehabilitation

DULUTH, Minn. – Yesterday a federal appeals court tossed out an earlier ruling that the Minnesota sex offender program is unconstitutional.

The program keeps sex offenders confined indefinitely after their release from prison.

Over 700 people are currently in sex offender program. Only a handful of offenders have been released from the program over its 20 year history.

Governor Mark Dayton said he will continue his efforts to improve the program, including seeking funding for less restrictive facilities for offenders.

There are many different opinions about how convicted sex offenders should be dealt with and rehabilitated.

The Duluth Institute has been offering outpatient sex offender treatment for over 20 years. Their clinic director, Christos Petsoulis, has his own viewpoint on sex offender rehabilitation.

Petsoulis generally agrees with yesterday’s appeals court ruling. He believes it will give the state and the sex offender program more time to determine the best course of action to rehabilitate and potentially release the offenders from the program.

He feels it’s important for offenders to be supervised in the community and to be able to complete their treatment outside of an institution.

“The proof in the pudding is out in the community,” says Christos Petsoulis. “It’s like going into treatment for alcoholism and staying sober and then coming out here and then you have to deal with your friends, with the bar, with the liquor store, with your anxiety. So that’s the part we really need to focus and put more resources in my opinion.”

Petsoulis believes the biggest roadblock to releasing offenders into community treatment programs is public perception.

Although not everyone agrees with this perspective, he says educating the public is key to getting offenders the treatment they need.

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