Sex offender ‘system’ must undergo reforms

The state of Minnesota is holding in custody 700 citizens who have served their time. They are considered dangerous sexual predators and are involved in a treatment program that may be offering treatment in name only. This has raised constitutional questions about these detainees’ rights, and about the failure of state lawmakers to do something about it, given pending federal court action.

What may result is a lengthy reform process, overseen by federal courts, with the sex offenders transitioning back into communities over time. The state could improve this process if lawmakers choose to do so next legislative session.

What they face is a tough choice. Do they really want to allow sexual predators back into society? Or do they want to scoff at the constitutional rights of people deemed irredeemable? We suppose this is not unlike the problem the United States faces with terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Both sets of prisoners are likely to commit vile acts again. But can they simply be held indefinitely, in opposition to basic tenets of human rights?

Even once lawmakers make a decision, it will again face court review. Which is where things stand now. Would it perhaps be best to just let federal courts shape this matter?

In the end, everyone must realize that an ideal system is not currently in place and must be formulated. Those sex offenders already in custody were tried and convicted under the system that exists, not the new alternative. Which means they are probably right, legally, in demanding release. Lawmakers just need to make sure that any new system imposes tough, tough sentences that keep sexual predators behind bars, whether they receive treatment or not.