Almost a week before a federal court hearing, state officials say changes proposed by those held in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program are unrealistic and not financially possible.
In a brief filed in federal court Monday, attorneys for the Department of Human Services said they intend to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank's June order which ruled the program is unconstitutional and called for both sides to detail how they would fix the program. Lawyers on behalf of the sex offenders submitted their remedies in August.
Most of the 720 people in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program were court-ordered to receive treatment after they finished their prison sentences, a process called civil commitment. They are confined in Moose Lake, Minn., and St. Peter, Minn. Three offenders are currently under provisional release.
Those suing the state say they are being held without a clear path to release and don't receive adequate treatment. To fix the program, they want annual risk assessments and less restrictive facilities, among other requests.
But in its brief, the state argues that there are too few qualified and licensed risk assessors to handle all clients in the MSOP by the end of the year. They argue that, similarly, "less restrictive alternatives cannot be constructed or re-purposed by the end of the year," because permitting, inspections and licensing, on top of construction, would take more time.
"Plaintiffs also ignore that Defendants cannot appropriate the millions, or tens of millions, of dollars needed to accomplish these proposed remedies," the state's filing says.
In an August letter, Judge Frank anticipated Minnesota officials' concerns when he wrote "if the state proves unwilling or incapable of remedying the constitutional violations, to which insufficient funding is not a defense, that failure may demand a more forceful solution."
The brief also notes that the Legislature could change the program in a way that makes remedies unnecessary.
A hearing on remedies will be held Sept. 30.