Friday, March 4, 2011

Rehabilitating Violent Sex Offenders

Our position is that they cannot ever be rehabilitated and evaluative research, properly done, supports that position; so this new effort by Minnesota, as reported by Minnesota Public Radio, jeopardizes public safety.

An excerpt.

“St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota state officials have signed a contract with a nonprofit agency to house and treat the state's most dangerous sex offenders if they're released from civil commitment. The contract represents a big shift for the state.

“For decades, Minnesota has indefinitely detained people committed for the most heinous sex crimes. Until now, no one has been permanently released from that civil commitment, partly because there hasn't been a secure program to take them.

“People who are civilly committed -- nearly all of them men -- have been convicted for the most violent sex crimes. They served their prison sentence, and then they went before a panel that decided they were too dangerous to release.

“In Minnesota, that means they go to a facility in Moose Lake. It's a treatment center that looks like a prison. People who graduate through treatment end up at a less restrictive facility in St. Peter. Until now, no one has ever been permanently released from that program.

“The contract signed Monday is between the Minnesota Department of Human Services, which runs the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, and a Minneapolis-based nonprofit named Community Re-entry Services. Its parent organization, 180 Degrees, already runs a number of community-based sex offender treatment programs.

“It's possible a review panel of the Minnesota Supreme Court will soon agree to the first permanent provisional release for a man in civil commitment.

“That man is John Rydberg, 68. More than 30 years ago, Rydberg was convicted of committing two sexual assaults at gunpoint in Wisconsin.

“He escaped twice from a treatment program in Wisconsin. The second time he traveled to Minnesota, where he sexually assaulted a Blue Earth County woman while her three children were in the room.

“Rydberg was civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. He spent decades in treatment and has completed the sex offender program. His lawyer, Brian Southwell, says a special review board has already approved Rydberg's provisional release.”