Sex offenders in system are troubling problem

We do not believe Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and his administration want to put public safety at risk by allowing the release of a notorious sex offender. The governor has allowed the discharge appeal of Thomas Duvall – convicted three times of sexually assaulting teenage girls – to move forward, along with the appeals of two other offenders.

This has brought objections from state Attorney General Lori Swanson, a fellow Democrat, as well as the former Speaker of the House, Kurt Zellers, a Republican who is seeking Dayton’s job.

Dayton this week froze future applications for supervised release, saying he will await action by the Legislature to reform the state’s sex-offender treatment program. It is possible the state’s system may violate the constitutional rights of those in it who are held indefinitely. And it has created dilemmas like the one involving Duvall.

We believe the governor is trying to do his best, balancing the state’s system against the possible violation of constitutional rights. And we agree that state lawmakers must act to make the sex-offender treatment system make more sense.

We have long advocated longer prison terms for sex offenders, but this does not resolve the problem of those already convicted. As we have noted, the state may have to suffer the release of some sex offenders, who will then have to be monitored as closely as possible. The state can do a better job, obviously, by reforming its laws to deal with those who commit sex crimes in the future.