Supreme Court Won’t Hear Minnesota Sex Offender Case

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court won’t hear a challenge to Minnesota’s sex offender civil commitment system, which allows people deemed sexually dangerous to be committed to a treatment facility for an indefinite period of time.

The court’s order, which declines to hear the case, came Monday.

According to the sex offenders who brought the lawsuit, more than 700 people are now committed in the state as “sexually dangerous” or a “sexual psychopathic personality.” They argued the “fatal flaw” in the scheme is the Minnesota doesn’t require a regular review of those cases to see if the individuals should still be held.

Minnesota told the court that sex offenders can petition for release using a simple-to-obtain form.

An attorney for more than 700 residents in Minnesota’s civil commitment program for sex offenders says he’s disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case.

Dan Gustafson had argued that the program was unconstitutional because it amounts to a life sentence and only a handful of people have ever been released in the program’s more than 20-year history.

He says Monday’s order was a setback to the “administration of justice.” He says the ruling means the federal courts are keeping their hands off state decisions to commit sex offenders, and he says that should concern everyone who believes that the federal court system should guard the constitutional rights of people who are oppressed by the state.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued the following statement on the decision:

“This decision from the U.S. Supreme Court affirms that both the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and the State’s Civil Commitment Statute are constitutional. Importantly, this ruling does not mean that we abandon our ongoing reforms, to prioritize the safety and well being of all Minnesotans. Rather, this ruling will allow us to continue the reforms we have bgun, rather than oerate under a federal directive.

“Last session, I proposed $18.4 million in new funding for facilities improvements and staffing to make additional improvements. I urge Legislative Leaders to join me in funding continued reforms to this program in the coming legislative session.”


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