Dayton: Changing sex offender program will be difficult

Gov. Mark Dayton said today he wants to meet with a federal judge to talk about options for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, but the proposed date conflicts with a scheduled trade trip to Mexico.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that it is unconstitutional for Minnesota to keep civilly committed sex offenders locked up indefinitely. The judge summoned Dayton and other leaders to an Aug. 10 meeting to discuss how to change it.

Dayton said he's willing to delay the Mexico trip if the meeting date can't be changed, but he said major changes to the program will be difficult.

"In terms of galvanizing the Legislature to some action, it's going to be expensive and it's going to be unpopular and [from] my standpoint is undesirable," Dayton said. "From a programmatic standpoint, I think it moves us to begin those discussions with the judge before this appeal is resolved."

Dayton also said he wants an appeals court to review Frank's decision about the program, which allows confinement of people who are deemed to be at risk of committing future offenses.

"This is the whole policy that's been followed by the state of Minnesota now for decades," Dayton said. "To make what would be some very drastic changes in terms of the program, in terms of facilities and in terms of cost is one that we don't take lightly, and I think that it deserves an appellate review."

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