Sex offender program might be constitutional after all

Attorney General Swanson, in a recent Star-Tribune commentary on the commitment of sex offenders, makes some important points.

The possible change of status of a committed offender has led to her requesting a court hearing, which should have been done initially. The offender petitioned for the change a year ago and was denied, based on the opinion of experts and his victims; however, when he petitioned again this year, his request was on track to be granted without any additional input from the evaluators or the victims.

Why? Some have suggested it was an attempt to show that offenders do get released from the state's civil commitment program. This would be consistent with the belief that a federal court is about to declare Minnesota's program unconstitutional.

Swanson, however, emphasized that the court won't necessarily rule against the state program's constitutionality — if it is properly administered.

My opinion is that there are forces that have seized on the constitutional challenge as a method of forcing amendment of the statute that has successfully protected the public from these offenders for 20-plus years.


Recent "sky is falling" comments from legislators and others are raising fears that the court might suddenly turn multiple offenders loose, but such suggestions are not respectful of the wisdom of the court. There really are two sides to this issue, and both deserve to be heard.

Ray Schmitz


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