Minnesota lawmakers are under pressure to address the state's sex offender laws, specifically with regard to its civil commitment statutes.
Online PR News – 05-February-2015 – Minneapolis,Mn – Minnesota lawmakers are under pressure to address the state's sex offender laws, specifically with regard to its civil commitment statutes. The laws have faced legal challenges for individuals who say they are being unfairly incarcerated for indefinite periods of time. A U.S. federal judge recently called the laws "Draconian." Minnesota sex crime defense lawyer Max Keller agrees and says it's time for the state to take action.
Under state law, an individual can be committed to a sex offender treatment facility if they are found to be dangerous. Most states have similar laws. However, in most other states, commitment is only justified if the person has a conviction or has no ability to control his or her impulses. Minnesota's law allows commitment for anyone who has engaged in "harmful sexual conduct."
Max Keller, being a sex crime defense lawyer in Minnesota, says that kind of broad and vague term has led to hundreds of people being incarcerated for undefined periods of time. "It's a very challenging process," he said. "There's no definitive sentence or amount of time that the person is committed, so you have people essentially being incarcerated without the benefit of a trial."
The law has led to more than 700 people being committed, with only two of those 700 given a provisional release. Several residents sued the state in 2011, claiming that they were being indefinitely held without receiving treatment. The case is set to go to trial in February. That trial should determine whether the law is constitutional.
Mr. Keller says he hopes the legislature takes action before then. "We've had legislators, task forces, and even a federal judge say that reform is needed," he said. "Hopefully, the capital's legislators give this issue the attention it so desperately needs."