No miracles at Moose Lake

MPR’s Rupa Shenoy takes the latest look at the sex offender treatment/prison in Moose Lake, which is expected to get more business in the coming years as the state sends sex offenders to “treatment” after they serve their prison sentences. Only there’s very little treatment going on and no way for the “patients” to get out.

In her story today, Shenoy, notes that 90 percent of the people in Moose Lake, don’t undergo treatment:


Among them is Wallace Beaulieu. He was in pre-treatment therapy at Moose Lake but stopped participating.

“Anybody can say they’re providing treatment, but if you’re never giving anybody the opportunity to be released, what’s the treatment then?” asks Beaulieu, 38.

Beaulieu said he was convicted twice for a forced sexual encounter — one of a woman, in 1990, and 1992, a teenage girl. He said he spent four years in prison and was released in 1996.

Beaulieu said he did not register as a sex offender and was sent back to prison. When he finished that sentence, a Cass County judge ruled he was still a danger to the community and civilly committed him.

Beaulieu complains that Moose Lake is designed not to release patients.

“The treatment program right now is so vague,” Beaulieu said. “They don’t really talk about any sex offender issues that a person should be addressing.

It’s a complaint that isn’t new, and one that raged in the ’90s when the state Supreme Court ruled that the law that keeps people locked up after their sentences was unconstitutional because the burden for proving the offenders didn’t belong in the “treatment facility” rested with the offenders. They couldn’t prove it, because they would have to be released to prove they weren’t a threat to the community.

The Legislature changed the provisions under which “sexual psychopaths” are locked up after one came close to being released. The law shifted the burden to the state. It hasn’t been much of a burden, however. Nobody has ever been released from the Moose Lake facility.

And for the most part, few people care. The only time the issue of Minnesota’s sexual psychopath law comes up, are times like last October, when a reporter found out the “patients” got to watch big-screen TVs.

“It’s questionable whether these men are rehabilitatable with the current modalities of treatment,” Michael Farnsworth, a psychiatrist and former medical director for the Department of Human Services, told All Things Considered host Tom Crann at the time. “These are men who’ve had a long history… of dangerous sexual behavior. It’s like taking people who are in the final stages of a terminal disease, placing them in an intensive care unit, providing millions worth of treatment, and expecting them to recover. Most of these men will not fully recover.”

  • Kassie

    This is one of the issues I care A LOT about, and when I talk about it, I get attacked because somehow rape is worse than murder.

    Let’s look at the guy in your post above. He committed two rapes, one at 16 and one at 18. I can’t find any information on the nature of those crimes, but it seems he didn’t register when he got out and that put him back in jail and then into this program. It is now 20 years later and he has no chance of getting out of jail ever.

    Now, if he would have murdered two people, one at 16 and one at 18, (assuming the people he murdered were gang members or drug dealers) he would probably be a free man right now. He would not have to notify anyone. He would be free to live.

    And if he killed two different people by drunk driving at ages 16 and 18, he would probably have been free for all 20 of those years if he had a good lawyer back then.

    He was free at one time and committed no sexual crimes. The state has no proof he is going to reoffend. He has no chance to be rehabilitated and freed. Sex offenders have a much lower recidivism rate than other offenders. And it is costing the State of Minnesota over $350/day per person we have locked up. It is crazy.

    If the political will is there to put these men in jail for life, it should be in jail. This BS program is just jail called treatment. It is just in place out of fear. If it really was treatment, Pawlenty would have stood up and said, “these TVs are for people receiving treatment for a mental illness.” Not acted like he did and made them out as scum of the earth.

  • Laurie

    Kassie, you couldn’t have said it better!!! The program(PRISON) at Moose Lake is a joke. There is no treatment and there are guys in there that have already done treatment in prison and were released. Some have been living normal lives for a few years already and have not reoffended. But because they are labeled “sex offender” counties where they live are filing to have them civily commited and the state is doing that. It is insane.

    When did a sex offense become worse than murder. I could have a murder living next to me and not even know it. That scares me much worse than a sex offender. Why don’t murderers have to register everywhere they go? And why do they only do a few years and get freedom?

    This whole civil commitment law is crap. If there are really dangerous men in there why were they released from prison? And if this is treatment center why has no one been released from it since it opened? Someone is making money off this somewhere and it’s the tax payers that are getting screwed. And fear is what the state is using to keep this program going.

    Just the mention of a sex offender and the consensus is “lock them up and throw away the key”. This has even come out of the mouth of one, maybe more, of our wonderful senators. And Pawlenty is just as bad.

  • Danno

    Well… I’m certainly not going to attack Kassie. Nor am I going to attempt to provide a hierarchy of crime. Nonetheless, I agree with Kassie wholeheartedly.

    Not because of any specific crime, but rather because it is the right of every free person to be tried by a jury of peers. This “nonsense” about civil commitment is so un-American it makes me sick!

    How do we, as Americans, justify our Judges (or Governors) acting like dictators? What about that strikes others as wrong?? Can the few (or the one) protect, or deny, the rights of the many? Isn’t that what we fought against in the first place?

    I don’t care if they are sex offenders, murderers, drug addicts, or Ponzi-scheme kings… they (WE) all have the exact same right – jury by trial before our peers. Anything less… is not American, not justified, and an invitation to further abuses by those who believe they know what’s “best” for “us”.

  • Mike

    For what it’s worth, I think the story notes about 90 OFFENDERS refuse “treatment”:

    But the state has no authority to force sex offenders into treatment. About 90 refuse to participate.

    In fact, the story says about 90% DO participate in “treatment”:

    Benson said about half of patients participated in treatment a few years ago, but today 90 percent do.

    A very interesting piece, and living in southcentral MN and knowing some people who work as security counselors at the St. Peter Regional Treatment facility, I’m not so sure how much treatment is being provided…especially recently as staffing has been reduced to balance budget cuts. I’ve heard of one security counselor (instead of two or more) on duty at a time for each of their areas. It sounds like they do more guarding than treating due to shear numbers.

  • Kassie

    Holy wow! Two people agreed with me. This just made my night, for real.

    Basically these are reeducation camps for people to go and never leave. Who will stop the government as they expand these to gang members, then to anarchists, then to anyone who disagrees with the government? I’m being a bit dramatic, but I don’t see it as a huge stretch to do this with other convicted felons.

  • Danno

    Kassie… glad to have made your night… ;-)

    Mike… sorry, but 90% vs any other number is irrelevant… have these people been served due justice?? Should a county judge be given the right to lock someone up for life (with or without a caveat)??

    I think there are some out there who believe this format is the only way to act on their convictions. On such ill-conceived convictions are some of histories worst attrocities constructed…

  • Bob Collins

    If nobody ever gets released, how will the issue of whether treatment works be decided?

    The other question that comes up: These are obviously ways to keep people incarcerated after they’ve served their sentences. Why not just increase the sentencing guidelines to, say, life in prison?

  • Alice

    I had a difficult time listening to this report. I know one of the men in this “program” very well. He is my brother and I visit and talk to him often. It is a CRIME what is happening to these people and very few people have a clue! I’d like to suggest that this reporter interview someone who is going through the so-called “treatment” at Moose Lake. It is a joke. I saw one treatment plan. It included things like “shower each day”, “brush your teeth”, “take care of your living space”…NOTHING to do with treatment for sex offenders. The $328 per day per prisoner is outrageous. Someone is lining his/her pockets here. The facilities/meals/programming are exactly like in a prison…and prisons are able to provide the services for less than one fourth of this cost. Where is the money going? Don’t let them tell you that it’s the cost of treatment. Again, I say, ASK TO SEE A TREATMENT PLAN. You will be shocked.

  • Law Abiding Citizen

    God help us the way some people think! Kassie, what makes you so readily believe what a sex offender says? Are you confident he only committed 2 offenses just b/c he says so? Maybe when he gets released, he can live next door to you then. Where is the empathy for the victims of these crimes? Who pays for their medical expenses, counseling, etc. Do they get offered free treatment of any kind? No. In fact, they get revictimized by the judicial system when they attempt to hold their abuser accountable. Can they ever have a normal relationship after such a traumatic event? We are too liberal here in the US and we have yet to value women and children, whom are the victims of most sexual assaults. Vigilante justice might be the best “cure.” An eye for an eye.

  • Wallace Beaulieu

    My name is Wallace Beaulieu and I am the person named in this related story. I would first like to say Thank You to Ms. Shenoy for her honest reporting in addressing such a controversial subject. I know we are not society’s favorite poeple. The fact is that throughout history society has eliminated those it considers undesirable i. e. Nazi Germany, South Africa and even colonial America. It appears it is our turn. Who is next? Tea Partiers, illegal aliens, drunk drivers? While I am very pleased with Ms. Shenoy’s story, there is so much more to tell. I would like the public to see what we see and that this ” program” is not what they are telling the public it is. Perhpas there is someone out there who would like to know more. I would be happy to share my “Treatment Plan”. Please feel free to contact me at the detention (containment )facility at Moose Lake. -Wallace Beaulieu, 1111 Hiway 73, Moose Lake, MN 55767

  • Kassie

    Since this seems to have started up again, I’ll respond to LAC saying that I trust the court documents that I got online which have nothing to do with what the sex offender says.

    And would I want them living next door? For all I know, a sex offender is already living next door. As for a convicted sex offenders? Sure. With sex offenders I’m told exactly what the nature of their crime was and am given a picture so I can identify them. When drug dealers, murders and gang members move in I’m given no notice. I have to figure that out for myself.

  • Jane

    You can find anything and everything online and if you believe Wallace is telling the truth when he says he has 2 offenses then you aren’t reading his court cases and offense history and you can’t count cuz let me tell you, there are more than 2 and they aren’t pretty . I agree with LAC, let’s release Wallace and he can move next door to Kassie. Along with all the other offenders that are in that facility because they’ve raped, killed and gone back to rape the dead body, or, they have 100’s of offenses against babies and small children. I’ll choose to live next to a murderer.

  • Tammy

    I would like to know where to find the web-sites mentioned by Jane that disclose a persons offense history and court cases. Can you assist myself and other citizens of MN with this?

    I can tell by your comment you feel strongly about having an offender next door to you or in the neighborhood. I felt the same way at one time, but now want to know what got that person the title of “offender.”

    There are persons who truly deserve a ‘life sentence’ for their crime, but not all. How long does a person have to pay for mistakes made in their youth as teenagers, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol? How many times does a person need to complete a state run program at tax payers increasing and continued expense?

    Other mental illnesses and addictions are treated with therapy, medications, support groups, etc…Drunk drivers are allowed to repeat their crime over and over again, with or without treatment or serving time. The odds of a person being involved in a fatal alcohol related accident is more likely to happen then being accosted by a released offender.

    90% of all sex crimes go UN-reported! 90%! And of the sex crimes that are reported or discovered, 90% of those involve a relative or known acquaintance. These statistics say we need to keep an eye on our own family, their friends, the bus driver, clergy, coach, 4-H leader, etc…

    Knowledge is beneficial. An offender is not released into the community without a detailed release plan and a list of stipulations that will land them back in prison. The community is notified by radio, newspaper, television, word of mouth, and community meetings.

    Our fear would be better placed with those that haven’t been caught or treated yet.

  • Law Abiding Citizen

    Kassie, perhaps you could share with the rest of us where you get your information, particularly about the recidivism rate for sex offenders, because I happen to be aware of statistics that contradict yours. For instance, the fact that the recidivism rate for sex offenders is actually over 90%, which is supported and purported by sound medical and criminal justice research conducted by experts in their fields, including psychology. A large percentage of sex offenders are sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, and have a variety of severe and persistent psychological problems. These are individuals who are void of a conscience, lack empathy for others. One way or another, life without a conscience is a failed life. Having a conscience and empathy provides us with boundaries with our interactions with others, and not having one at all leads to disaster. Conscience can compel us out of our own skins and into the skin of another. Imagine for a moment that you could look at another human being and feel absolutely nothing for them, no love, no empathy, no desire to help or even to smile back, nothing. For most of us, conscience is just so ordinary, we don’t even notice it. But for those who don’t have it, they have no moral compass. Anything goes, because they lack remorse and simply do not care about others. People become psychopaths and sociopaths for a variety of reasons, usually stemming from traumatic experiences in their childhood. I believe that it is easier to build children than to repair adults, because damaged individuals can be helped, but you can’t fix broken!

  • Law Abiding Citizen

    A sneak into the not-so-beautiful mind: The vast majority of sex offenders have difficulty conforming to the mores of society, its rules and norms. Despite this, they are often undetectable to the common individual, due to their adept ability to reach their true feelings and inner turmoil. Their personality lacks a conscience, feels no remorse and cares exclusively for their own pleasures in life, and has a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others, which is evident by their deceitfulness, aggressiveness, irresponsibility and impulsivity. An important factor in understanding and identifying the victimization process of these individuals is the “common thread” of dysfunction in their backgrounds. On one level or another, they all come from dysfunctional backgrounds. In some cases, it is overt: physical and//or sexual abuse. In other cases, it is more subtle, as simple as neglect, indifference by a parent, or a feeling of rejection. Yet, however benign it may seem, it is significant enough to wreak havoc in the mind of the individual and is significant in selecting their victims. Whatever the specific details of their past, their prior feelings of rejection, inadequacy or abuse instill in them a need to feel power and control over their victims and dominate them. They find great enjoyment in the ability and power associated with holding others in fear of them. It is ironic that it is their own quest for power and their own deviant urges they seem unable to gain control over, at any cost. Much like the “schoolyard bully,” in order to ensure the execution of their power, they choose victims they perceive to be weaker or less powerful in some way, than they are. Predictably, their victims are primarily women, children (especially runaways), prostitutes and the elderly who are inferior in strength and therefore easier to dominate. Children are also mentally inferior, and easier to manipulate into an unsafe situation. From the pool of potential targets, an individual who was molested as a child often seeks out other children in an attempt to regain control and be the “one in power.” And an individual who was abused or neglected by his mother often carries hatred for women and seeks victims who resemble his mother in some way. With all that said, there are also individuals who have somehow managed to survive dysfunctional backgrounds and choose not to victimize others. David Pelzer, for example, was subjected to a severly dysfunctional background. However, he chose to go down the road less traveled and has written a trilogy about his own experiences and other self-help books, and provides public speaking engagements to assist others in their quest to try to understand why/how the cycle of abuse continues. But he is definitely the exception to the rule. Most individuals do not choose to discontinue the cycle of dysfunction they came from, and for this reason, we as a society need to take every precautionary measure available in an effort to try to prevent predators from creating more victims. To all the sex offenders out there, I have one thing to say, “I see how you are!”

  • I Know

    These are not just sex offenders. They are the worst 2 – 3 percent of the level 3 offenders. Most of the crimes committed are beyond belief for most of us and these individuals have committed these crimes again and again and again. Some of the earlier writers show an unbelievable amount of naivety. You have no idea just how bad these crimes are that these individuals have committed including the above named. Do your research, then go in the bathroom and throw up when you see what they have done.

  • David Moffatt

    The issue here is not the nature of the crimes involved or the guilt or innocence of any of the individuals involved (I would guess that most would admit to at least some degree of guilt). The problem is that these “patients” have already served the prison terms handed down after they were tried in open court. Having “paid their debt to society”, they were subjected to a summary civil proceeding in which Constitutional niceties like presumption of innocence, right to a jury trial, right against self-incrimination, and a bar to imposition of indeterminate (or ex post facto) sentences did not exist. They were them shipped from one prison to another, only the new prison says “hospital” over the door–both are surrounded by the same brand of razor wire.

    This is justified by the state as a “medical” expedient, though a judge makes the final determination, not a doctor. The people in question are sent for “treatment”, though there is no agreement as to what that might consist of or what, if any, disease they might suffer from. And the law insures that few if any will ever be regarded as “cured”–even if the law has to be changed or the definition of a “cure” modified to keep someone from being released.

    If the state can do this to anyone, they can do it to everyone. We should not forget that the Soviet Union used “special hospitals” as means to imprison and torture dissidents, even having doctors come up with new “diseases” to be used as labels (“sluggish schizophrenia” was one) in order to justify political imprisonment.

    Again, those now incarcerated in the Moose Lake “treatment center” have completed the prison sentences which they received after being tried for their respective crimes. If they were murderers, rapists, bank robbers, drug dealers, car thieves, or mad bombers, they would walk out of prison and return to society. Because their offenses involve some form of sex with which American society has never been able to discuss openly, they instead become “the disappeared”. Do not by any means believe that their ranks will decrease or that the definition of “sicknesses” justifying this sort of “treatment” will not be modified as the state sees fit, when the state sees fit.