Lawyers representing hundreds of offenders held indefinitely in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program asked a federal judge Thursday to declare it unconstitutional.
Just one person has been successfully released from the sex offender program's prison-like facilities. Offenders filed a class action suit, charging that there is no clear path to release. Their lawyers had been in talks with the state to settle the suit.
Those talks have stalled, said Dan Gustafson, the offenders' lead attorney. In order to meet a court-mandated deadline, he filed a motion asking U.S. Magistrate Judge Donovan Frank to declare the program and its standard for discharging patients unconstitutional.
Another motion asks the state to immediately provide less restrictive alternatives. A third requests that the judge appoint a special federal master to oversee changes.
Gustafson said a ruling is unlikely before a scheduled Nov. 15 hearing.
The motions were filed Thursday as part of the class-action lawsuit on behalf of sex offenders who've been committed to the secure treatment program indefinitely after completing their prison sentences.
Deputy Human Services Commissioner Anne Barry says her department is making progress toward addressing concerns about the program.
Civil liberties advocates and others have long criticized Minnesota's sex offender program for its indefinite detention of people who have completed prison sentences. But judges think the sex offenders are at too high a risk to commit crimes again.
They are incarcerated at facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter, at a cost of $300 per day per person. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is supposed to provide treatment for the more than 600 people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.