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SCOTUS upholds civil commitments for ‘sexually dangerous’

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In a 7-2 decision today, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law allowing the government to hold "sexually dangerous" persons in civil commitment after they have served the length of their criminal sentences.

Minnesota's state sex offender facility in Moose Lake, and the state laws under which it operates, aren't directly affected by the Supreme Court ruling (pdf), but program certainly gains a hefty constitutional endorsement with the decision.

When MPR's Rupa Shenoy visited the facility last month, she found that 90 people at the facility currently don't participate in the treatment programs they are ostensibly locked down in order to receive .

Among them is Wallace Beaulieu. He was in pre-treatment therapy at Moose Lake but stopped participating.

"Anybody can say they're providing treatment, but if you're never giving anybody the opportunity to be released, what's the treatment then?" asks Beaulieu, 38.

Beaulieu said he was convicted twice for a forced sexual encounter -- one of a woman, in 1990, and 1992, a teenage girl. He said he spent four years in prison and was released in 1996.

Bob Collins also took a brief look at the history of the issue.

The Legislature changed the provisions under which "sexual psychopaths" are locked up after one came close to being released. The law shifted the burden to the state. It hasn't been much of a burden, however. Nobody has ever been released from the Moose Lake facility.

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