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Federal judge rules sex offender program unconstitutional

Federal judge rules sex offender program unconstitutional

People in New Jersey may be interested to learn of a recent federal ruling in which Minnesota's post-prison mandatory sex offender treatment program was ruled unconstitutional. The state's program confines people for an indeterminate period of time even after they have served their prison sentences. Although the ruling pertains to that state alone, it could potentially affect similar programs in other parts of the country.

The state's sex offender program requires people to complete treatment before they can be discharged from it back into society. Although it has been in place for 21 years, no one has ever successfully discharged. Four people have received provisional releases. The judge said in his ruling that the program needs to be changed to protect both society as well as the rights of those confined.

The governor of Minnesota, a task force of commissioners, a group of district attorneys and numerous criminal defense attorneys all make up the group that will determine the changes to be made. Each attendee will be offering ideas for how to handle releasing the inmates back into society as well as what will be required. All of those who are confined in the program were deemed to be sexually violent predators. They include 719 men and one woman.

People who have been charged with a sex crime face extremely serious consequences if they are convicted. As the Minnesota case demonstrates, people who are convicted may find themselves being confined long after their prison sentences are done. Even if no incarceration is ordered, they face registering as a sex offender and all of the collateral consequences that can bring, including problems finding a place to live, finding a job and obtaining credit. Those who are charged may want to seek help from a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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