Sex offender in MN program: 'You know you're going to die there'

A sex offender who committed crimes as a juvenile testified Thursday he's no longer violent but still locked up in the state's sex offender program.

"All your hopes and dreams are taken away. You pretty much know you're going to die there ... that's how you get out," Craig Bolte told a federal court judge in a trial that could decide the future of the state's controversial program.

More than 700 civilly committed sex offenders are suing the state, claiming it's unconstitutional to keep them locked up indefinitely and that they don't get adequate treatment from the program, which is run by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Most were court-ordered to receive sex offender treatment after finishing their prison sentences. Offenders are confined to one of two Minnesota treatment facilities in Moose Lake or St. Peter.

The system was set up in the 1990s, when current civil commitment laws went into effect. But it's been under fire for rarely letting anyone out until recently.

The program has been politically charged for years. There's no consensus among Minnesota lawmakers on how to fix it through legislation. So it's ended up in federal court.

Bolte, now 27, sexually assaulted young girls when he was a young boy and then a teenager. On Thursday, he told the judge he feels hopeless and confined to the program indefinitely.

A group of court-appointed experts says offenders like Bolte, who committed their crimes as juveniles, should not have been civilly committed. More than 60 men committed to Moose Lake and St. Peter have no criminal convictions as adults. The experts suggest that most boys who commit sex offenses as kids mature out of that behavior as adults.

Attorneys for the state have argued the state has a legitimate interest in protecting its citizens from dangerous sex offenders and the program is constitutional.

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