Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Federal Appeals Court: Minnesota may confine sex offenders indefinitely

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that a Minnesota program that keeps sex offenders confined to secure facilities after they complete their prison sentences is constitutional and necessary to protect citizens from dangerous predators, reported JURIST. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, more than 700 offenders, argue that the program is essentially a life sentence and that it is almost impossible to progress to a level deemed necessary for release. Only six offenders are currently released from the program after more than 20 years of its enactment. The court stated:

The class plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that any of the identified actions of the state defendants or arguable shortcomings in the Minnesota Sex Offenders Program were egregious, malicious, or sadistic as is necessary to meet the conscience-shocking standard.

The plaintiffs plan to appeal to the US Supreme Court.
In June a judge for the US District Court for the District of Minnesota ruled that Minnesota's sex offender program and civil commitment statutes were unconstitutional. In other countries, controversial laws pertaining to the preventative detention of prisoners deemed a threat to public safety have also come under fire. JURIST reported in May rights groups called for reform of a Kashmir law they allege is being used to detain people despite the absence of sufficient evidence for a trial. Last year the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit  ruled  unanimously that a federal law allowing for the indefinite detention of mentally ill sex offenders was constitutional.

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