Do you trust the state to make good choices about releasing sex offenders?

For the first time, the Minnesota Sex Offender Program is preparing to release someone from long-term civil commitment. Do you trust the state to make good choices about releasing sex offenders?

  • Connie

    Instead of feel good, do nothing laws, we should invest our resources with education and prevention programs for the public, coupled with the treatment and rehabilitation programs for those who have committed sex crimes. Not only is this the ONLY effective method for the reduction of sex crimes, it would be more cost effective. Unfortunately, the sex offender industry is booming, and there is no incentive for an honest approach to the issue.

  • Peg

    Having seen the irrational and hysterical debate on healthcare, did you really expect anything less on this topic?

    The hysteria over sex offenders, registers and the like seems way out of proportion to the actual problem. Somebody might correct me, but do I not recall that, at least in the US, children are far more at risk from relatives than strangers? I think this was possibly for abductions/murders.

  • Emery

    It’s not like we don’t have 17-year-old boys to spare.

    By the way, the wage of sin is the first thing on my mind in the morning, too.

  • Ellison

    “There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.”

    Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)

  • reggie

    Good choices compared to what? The Catholic Church?

  • Rich

    Perhaps the point to be made is that we should punish an offender appropriately within the system, so that he can be released a free man, free to start again. If that means executing or imprisoning for life those men who are not to be trusted in public, then let’s make that judgement and live with it. Trying to further punish offenders after the fact is ineffective (it doesn’t appear to make us safer), morally and constitutionally dubious, and tempts us to lump too many minor offenses as “sex offenses” because there is perceived to be no cost to society in enforcing these onerous post-prison restrictions. If we imprisoned for life all sex offenders, we would not call those who relieved themselves in public or engaged in consensual sex with a minor a sex offender. It would be too expensive.

    These post-incarceration limits to freedom are yet another way for our society to avoid paying for our collective decisions. Throw them in jail for life (or execute them), if we really think they’re dangerous. Otherwise, when they have served their term, they should be free men, no strings attached.

  • Philip

    I’m waiting for the daily “legalize cannabis” tirade. I’m sure that would fix the problem.

  • Larry M.

    I think it does the best it can within the constructs of the law and constitution (state and national) and for the resources it has available. Perhaps putting more resources in place may be better, but it does not seem politically feasible in the current, no new taxes, political environment. And to the first post, yes much better than the catholic church.

  • GregX

    we can’t afford to build roads, fund schools, hire police, but we sure seem to never run out of money lock people up. Maybe the decision we have to make is that we only incarcerate the highest risk criminals.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The government is only as trustworthy as the voters who chose it. That said, is there some entity we should trust more than the state? This is a case where I distrust the government less than I do anyone else who would presume to decide.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Philip, legalizing cannabis won’t solve all our problems, only the ones created by its prohibition. But here’s an idea: Let’s addict sex offenders to methodone and make getting their fix conditional on their behaving themselves sexually. (Just kidding, though it could work.)

  • Jim G

    I would trust the state to develop an effective sex offender release program. The cost of keeping one person in the sex offender program is $140,000 plus annually. We can’t afford to keep building facilities for stockpiling these people until they die. That’s not ethical, or prudent.

    Treatment and rehabilitation will work for most, but not all. The program should be able to sift out the worst offenders. This saves tax dollars, and motivates offenders to change their behavior to rejoin the community. The halfway house is needed to verify progress. It’s the christian thing to do.

  • Craig

    I assume at the intersection of law and psychology there is some Linnaean breakdown of sex offenders. Let’s take those in and around the sexual predator/molester realm. They are irrational. Their crimes (driven by a basic urge) are not for gain. Hence, the threat of punishment may not modify their behavior. In fact, the threat of punishment doesn’t seem to work terribly well on thieves; but we accept this because property can be replaced.

    Some custodians of these offenders have invested their lives in the science of treatment, and I could imagine a few of them being eager for a success. The offenders too may believe they have changed; just as the formerly obese believe they will never overeat again. A statutory life sentence for such offenders would remove the risk of a well-intentioned mistake.

    Parenthetically, I imagine these crimes are often committed at the end of a long, corruptive psychological process. Hopefully science is focused on pre-crime warning signs; it might spare some victims.

  • John P II

    I don’t trust the state’s past decisions in this area but I think it’s improving. This program has been MN’s own little Guantanamo and it’s shameful.

  • Gary F

    Trust the government? No. Never. Not just for this topic.

    If someone has done their time, they can leave with the stipulation they get follow up help.

    If they weren’t given a long enough sentence, then they should be forced to live in the same neighborhood as the judge who sentenced them.

    If they were let out early, then they need to be forced to live in the neighbor hood as the parole board who let them out early.

  • JasonB

    I trust the state only if I believe they can make the correct diagnosis regarding the offender’s psychological state.

    I see offenders as having two problems: an obsessive desire to commit an act, and the lack of moral character or empathy to abstain from the act – that is, they have an antisocial disorder. So my trust is dependent on the state convincing me that this person can and has been ‘cured’, and I’m not sure that’s possible.

  • Ann

    Ask the families of murdered people like Dru Sjodin. Haven’t studies shown that a high percentage of people who look at child pornography carry out criminal acts? Do we put freedoms first or safety first? Doesn’t it seem that society is putting freedoms first?

  • Mary

    The state has scientific methods to assess someone’s potential risk to a community, and they use those resources accordingly. In addition, there are well trained staff to help criminals make the all important transition into society. In that respect, I trust the state to make good decisions. Having said that, let’s remember that committing a crime is an act of volition. The only one that has control over that is the person who makes the choice, to commit a crime or be a law abiding citizen of the community. I for one, thinks it’s sad and outrageous that there are how many, 300? people currently civilly committed, at a cost to taxpayers of $120,000 per year per committed person. This is 3 times the cost of incarcerating someone in prison. We need to come up with a thoughtful plan to start releasing those who merit such. I trust the state to make the best decisions in these cases.

    To Ann: Raising the specter of the Dru Sjodin case is simply not useful for this argument. That is an extreme example of a stranger/sex offense/murder that, while upsetting and unfortunate, is also a rare occurrence. To Gary F: You are equating release from civil commitment to release from prison. Very different scenarios. Release from civil commitment requires a special review board utilizing provisional discharge. It is not a simple process. Look up MN statute 253B. As far as release from incarceration, there is no such thing as “early release” or “good time” any longer. The state of Minnesota adopted a uniform system of presumptive sentencing, in 1980. People sentenced to prison serve two-thirds of their sentence in prison and the last third in the community on supervised release. You can do an internet search on the MN Sentencing Guidelines to educate yourself about this.

  • Fiona

    “Good choices compared to what? The Catholic Church?

    Posted by reggie | March 7, 2012 7:08 AM ”

    Reggie gets the ‘Apple Pie Betty’ award of the day.

  • John

    I trust the people who work with the offenders to do their job. They know better than I do what the person did and what progress they have made in their rehabilitation programs. Before you judge these offenders, you should find out what they did. Some are labeled sex offenders because they had a 17 year old girlfriend when they were 19. We need to fix this system so the punishment and follow-up treatment fits the crime.

  • Thomas

    No, I trust Love.

    “God’s answer is some form of peace. All pain is healed; all misery replaced with joy. All prison doors are opened. And all sin is understood as merely a mistake.”

    Lesson 359 of ACIM