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Forty detainees at the Moose Lake Correctional facility in Minnesota began a hunger strike on July 4. This is the second hunger strike this year at the facility where detainees and advocates claim the Minnesota Sex Offender Program MSOP is unconstitutionally detaining people after they have completed their prison sentences with no clear path to release. These terms are legal determinations ased to people by a panel of judges during a petition process that the Minnesota Department of Corrections DOC initiates as prisoners approach the end of their sentence.
Civil commitment is a non-criminal process that allows for the indefinite detention of people deemed potentially dangerous to the public.
It is a preventative measure that has garnered ificant criticism from those detained and their advocates because few people have ever progressed through treatment to release and individuals detained within this system are not afforded the same rights as a person detained as a state prisoner. After 20 years in operation, people had been committed to the facility and only 3 people had ever been released. Todaythere remain people detained at the Moose Lake Treatment Facility.
In its 26 years in operation, only 14 people have ever been fully discharged from the program and 45 have been provisionally discharged. To date, 88 people have died while in the MSOP, making it 6 times more likely that a detainee will die in the facility than be discharged without provisions. Approximately 90 individuals held at Moose Lake have never been convicted of a sex crime. This document examines 13 barriers to release from the program and proposals for policy changes within three governmental agencies as solutions to these barriers. In her book, The Feminist and the Sex Offender: Confronting Sexual Harm, Ending State ViolenceMeiners suggests various alternatives to hold harm-doers able while shrinking our reliance on the criminal legal system.
According to Wilson, about detainees stood outside and were able to listen to the noise demonstration for minutes. At that point, he said, the administration moved everyone inside the facility. According to reports from detainees, one striker fell unconscious while his family was outside participating in the honk-in. Since the start of the current strike, 3 men have been hospitalized including Russel Hatton, co-founder of OCEAN, who had a seizure in the yard.
All three men have returned to striking after a short break during the hospitalization. Refusing water dramatically increases risks associated with hunger strikes. DHS recorded 27 participants at its height, claiming that there were 10 or fewer strikers as of Monday. The strikers maintain that as of Monday there were 29 detainees refusing meals with some reporting they will strike until they lose consciousness, are force fed, or die. Only 20 states in the U. Plans for the Moose Lake Treatment Facility were first presented in a session of the Minnesota state legislature.
Peter where individuals go as they progress to the second phase of treatment. There are currently about people detained at Moose Lake and nearly in St. The third state in the U. The law remained on record for decades with little invocation until the s when public outcry following a series of violent crimes committed by recently released offenders prompted the Minnesota Department of Corrections MDOC to modify its supervised release policies.
In Julythe MDOC began requiring a systematic screening of people with sex offenses for possible psychopathic personality commitment, leading to an increase in commitments in subsequent years. The of civil commitments in Minnesota rose again in from people in the MSOP to people in the program by This is due to the MDOC recommending all high-risk sex offenders for commitment following the abduction and murder of a year-old North Dakota college student.
Once a person has been flagged by the MDOC for possible commitment, a recommendation is made to a county attorney who then brings a petition for commitment in front of a judge. Unlike within the criminal legal systema person being considered for commitment is not pd innocent until proven guilty during the proceedings nor do they have the right to trial by jury. Further, unsubstantiated allegations and hearsay are admissible in commitment hearings as the standards of proof are lower than in a criminal court.
In fact, it is not a requirement of civil commitment under the sexually dangerous persons category to have ever been convicted of a sex crime in the past. While most detainees in the facility have been convicted and served prison sentences for past sex crimes, 90 individuals detained at the facility have not had sex crime convictions, according to Boehnke of the MSOP Coaition.
Once a person has been committed under the MSOP statute, the only way to be discharged from the program is to file a petition for release to a panel of district judges appointed by the state supreme court. It is not up to the practitioners inside the facility or the Department of Human Services, the governmental body who administers the program, to make the final call. In14 people detained at Moose Lake filed a class action lawsuit against the MSOP alleging that their detention was unconstitutional.
At the time of filing no detainee who had entered the program had ever been released. By when the lawsuit went to trial, and after more than 20 years of operation, only three people had been released with provisions and not a single person unconditionally released of a person population.
This led to the decision by the U. The Plaintiffs in the case appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court, but in Octoberthe court declined to hear the case, allowing the Appeals Court decision to stand and the MSOP to continue unhindered by federal directives. Much of this contention stems from the use of tools within these programs to determine if a person is a high risk sex offender or to assess their progression through treatment. The same survey also found that Black men are 2 times as likely to be civilly committed in Minnesota than non-Black individuals.
According to U. Wilson is not alone in speculating that the tools used to assess patients are imbued with biases. The Static is a survey for men only consisting of a series of ten questions in which men are ased points that measure their likelihood to re-offend. In one case, a young man from Virginia gained a point for being between the ages of The man, Galen Baughman, was held in civil contempt in Virginia for 2.
InBaughman was again committed by a jury that was not allowed to hear the testimony of two psychiatrists or an expert psychologist who found that Baughman was not dangerous. Baughman remains in civil commitment as he waits to find out if the the Supreme Court of Virginia will hear his appeal. The opportunity to have a civil commitment reviewed by a jury is not an opportunity Minnesota law affords people who are civilly committed. Instead, the decision is left to a panel of judges. One of the questions on the Static 99 adds points if the subject has not lived with a sexual partner for more than two years.
Another adds points if their victim was of the same gender. Supreme Court. In a reportAshely Nellis, Ph. Minkel told Perilous she began organizing to end the MSOP after hearing from her brother of the circumstances inside. The use of polygraph tests became inadmissible in criminal court in following United States v. Wilson told Perilous that he received more counseling services while he was incarcerated in state prison than as a detainee at the Moose Lake treatment program. While in prison he had spent 6 hours a week in treatment, whereas he only currently spends 4 hours a week in treatment at Moose Lake.
WIlson also told Perilous that he thinks the way that the civil commitment process is set up may actually deter people who would otherwise seek help from coming forward.
He spoke of a former cellmate who checked himself into treatment inhaving not committed an offense but instead aiming to get treatment to avoid harming someone. A survivor of rape and kidnapping, Brainard became involved with the coalition after learning about conditions at the facility from her brother who is a detainee there. Meiners contends that the failure of civil commitment to lower rates of sexual violence in the states with such laws is evidence that civil commitment fails as a deterrent.
Meiner offered structural interventions that might be achieved by redirecting finances from institutions like civil commitment. them: ridleyseawood protonmail. Photo Source: PBS NewsHour Unlike within the criminal legal systema person being considered for commitment is not pd innocent until proven guilty during the proceedings nor do they have the right to trial by jury. Prison over Torture-like Conditions. Support Our Work Perilous relies on contributions from our readers to do our work.
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