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.”