Mark Dayton flip-flops, now opposes release of sex offenders

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Minnesota's sex offender program was created in 1994, but since then only two men have been released from its Moose Lake facility.
In an interview earlier this month, Mark Dayton said he supported complying with the Department of Human Services recommendation to release serial rapist Thomas Duvall from his indefinite detention at the state's sex offender facility.

SEE ALSO: Dayton signs law to move mentally ill offenders out of jail quicker

But Attorney General Lori Swanson expressed concern Dayton and other state officials were moving too fast, and MNGOP gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers blasted the governor for not blocking Duvall's release. As a result, during a news conference today, Dayton sounded a different note and said he now opposes the release of offenders like Duvall.

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Dayton administration blasts Kurt Zellers over sex offender controversy

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The Dayton administration isn't happy with Zellers's effort to blame them for a sex offender's possible release.
As we covered earlier this week (link directly below), the possible release of serial rapist Thomas Duvall from the state's sex offender facility in Moose Lake is a highly controversial issue.

THE BACKSTORY: Mark Dayton, Lori Swanson disagree about whether serial rapist should be released

On one hand, Duvall served his time, has been recommended for release by the Department of Human Services, and you can't keep him locked up forever, right? But on the other, Duvall's criminal history and treatment reports written as recently as last year suggest he's a high risk to offend again.

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Mark Dayton, Lori Swanson disagree about whether serial rapist should be released

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Swanson (left) thinks Dayton and other state officials are moving too hastily toward releasing a serial offender.
A few months back, a Department of Human Services board recommended that serial rapist Thomas Duvall be released from the state's sex offender facility in Moose Lake.

THE BACKSTORY: State may release man convicted of knife-point rape and another who molested 30 children

Governor Mark Dayton supports the board's recommendation. But Attorney General Lori Swanson doesn't think Duvall should be set free without additional scrutiny and will seek to block his release during a hearing on Friday, the Star Tribune reports.

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State may release man convicted of knife-point rape and another who molested 30 children

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State of Minnesota
Minnesota's sex offender program was created in 1994, but since then only two men have been released from its Moose Lake facility.
State officials have taken heat from all over the world for Minnesota's 19-year-old sex offender treatment program, which currently houses nearly 700 inmates in a facility in Moose Lake but has released only two offenders -- ever.

SEE ALSO: Hennepin County jailer died after attack by mentally ill, HIV-infected inmate

The state may soon double that number. A Department of Human Services board recently recommended the release of two offenders, meaning all that stands between them and some degree of freedom is final approval from a state Supreme Court appeals panel.

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Ray Messer is first inmate to commit suicide at state's sex offender facility [MUGSHOT]

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Ray Messer was convicted of criminal sexual conduct four times in a 20 year span. He died following a suicide attempt last Friday.
Over the weekend, 45-year-old Ray Messer became the first inmate to commit suicide at the state's sex offender facility in Moose Lake.

SEE ALSO: Warrant issued for on-the-loose sex offender with an epic mullet [PHOTO]

It's unclear how Messer killed himself, but MPR, citing conversations with offenders at the facility, reports that cheap razors and drugs are commonly used in suicide attempts. Offenders told MPR they believe there are a few suicide attempts at the facility each week, while authorities claim there are usually about 10 over the course of an entire year.

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Dayton signs law to move mentally ill offenders out of jail quicker

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The new law will move mentally ill offenders through the system quicker.
As of July 1, the state will be legally obligated to move mentally ill offenders out of jails within 48 hours of a judge signing a civil commitment order.

Designed to move people with mental illnesses to treatment quicker, the measure was included in the Health and Human Services omnibus bill passed by the Legislature this session, which Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Thursday.

"It seemed like the best interest of the inmate had been forgotten," says bill author Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen. "This will ensure that we don't have anyone languishing without treatment in jail."

SEE ALSO:
Cover: Unfit for Trial
The In-Betweeners: Civil commitment loophole cycles out mentally ill offenders

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Civil commitment overhaul moves to Senate floor

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Sen. Julianne Ortman, left, introduced the bill. Hennepin County Judge Jay Quam testified in favor.
Two bills designed to reduce the amount of time mentally ill offenders spend in jail awaiting treatment passed a Senate committee last week, and will now head to the floor.

One of the bills would mandate that the Department of Human Services transfer the offender out of jail within 48 hours of a judge issuing a civil commitment order; the other would streamline the path to commitment, combining the criminal and civil processes.

"Members, we set the policy," said bill author Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, at Thursday's hearing. "It's not right for folks that are innocent to be sitting in our jail waiting for treatment and waiting through processes that I think are unnecessarily burdensome."


SEE ALSO:

Hennepin County jailer died after attack by mentally ill, HIV-infected inmate
Mentally ill, dangerous patient languished for months without proper care
Judge presses Dept of Human Services on civil commitment troubles

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Judge presses Dept of Human Services on civil commitment troubles

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For more on the troubles of civil commitment, read our March cover story, Unfit for Trial.
A Hennepin County judge wants to know why it's taking the state so long to transfer some mentally ill patients to psychiatric hospitals.

Judge Jay Quam, who presides over the mental health commitment court, pulled representatives from the Department of Human Services into his courtroom Wednesday to assess where the system stalls, and how to prevent patients from languishing without proper care in the future.

SEE ALSO:
COVER: Unfit for Trial
Mentally ill, dangerous patient languished for months without proper care
Hennepin County jailer died after attack by mentally ill, HIV-infected inmate
Hennepin County court gap cycles out mentally ill offenders

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Mentally ill, dangerous patient languished for months without proper care; judge wants explanation

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Craig Lassig for City Pages.
Judge Jay Quam wants assurance others won't be left to languish without proper care.
Linda Desonpere had no business being at the University of Minnesota's Fairview Hospital after August 27.

That's the day a Hennepin County judge deemed Desonpere "mentally ill and dangerous" -- the most restrictive form of commitment in Minnesota -- and ordered her transfer to the St. Peter Security Hospital.

SEE ALSO:
COVER: Unfit for Trial
Hennepin County court gap cycles out mentally ill offenders
Hennepin County jailer died after attack by mentally ill, HIV-infected inmate


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