Civil commitment setback | 8th Circuit reverses lower court

By Chris Serres . . . A federal appeals court in St. Louis has reversed a lower-court ruling that Minnesota’s sex-offender treatment program is unconstitutional — a major victory for the Minnesota Department of Human Services and a decision that could delay long-awaited reforms to the state’s system of indefinite detention for sex offenders.

In a decision Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a class of sex offenders who sued the state failed to prove that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) violated their due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

“We conclude that the class plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that any of the identified actions of the state defendants or arguable shortcomings in the MSOP were egregious, malicious, or sadistic as is necessary to meet the conscience-shocking standard,” the court ruled.

In response, the lead attorney for a class of offenders who sued the state said he is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which must be filed within 90 days.

“Justice was not done today,” said Dan Gustafson, the attorney for the plaintiffs. “We’re still considering what we are going to do but, as Governor Dayton said the other day, we are not going quietly into the night.”

Minnesota confines more offenders per capita, and has the lowest release rate, among the 20 states that use civil commitment to confine sex offenders in treatment programs. Only 14 offenders have been conditionally discharged from the program in its more than 20-year history. Of those, seven are currently living in the community. Just one offender has been unconditionally discharged, and that did not occur until August.

(Read full article in the Star Tribune)

7 comments for “Civil commitment setback | 8th Circuit reverses lower court

  1. John W
    January 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Does anyone really know what “due process” is suppose to mean? I always thought constitutional amendments were written to limit the reach and power of the government in their never ending quest to protect us, from us!
    I don’t have the ability to argue these points of law that “our” government uses to protect us, but I always knew “you do the crime, you do the time”. But let me see if I understand the way it works now.
    A prosecutor, can use innuendo, hearsay, or even true facts of another person’s criminal behavior, and apply it to the account of a different person of similar crimes, than, have that different person committed to an indefinite confinement without the right to counsel or a defense. The prosecutor is allowed to do this because it is within the limits of the “conscience-shocking standard”. Are you kidding? Just using that phrase as a point of law sends a chill to my bones.
    I got a good idea! Why don’t we, as a government body, hire a lawyer, give him a checking account with a indefinite amount of money, and I mean millions of dollars. Than, we can have him look around at some people who have already served their time in prison, or getting ready to be released, and we will confine them in a place that we will call a “hospital”. And if the DA’s do a good job, we will promote them to congressmen. There could be the problem that if we say it’s a life long commitment, it will not pass the Conscience-Shocking Standards Test (C-SST).
    Maybe we shouldn’t say anything about time. We can just put a sign over the door that reads: “Arbeit macht frei”

    • January 6, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      I don’t know what their “due process” is but if you look it as do unto others as you would have them do unto you than you just might find the true answer to man’s due process.

      John there is no love thy neighbor in any of this. It is man condemning man for a life time for a thought or a touch or a porno site they were on. Now do you think government is right in all this?

      I would also have to say clean up the internet but that would not be right for man to do that as that would infringe on man’s right. What are they doing to the sex offender when most of these offenses are bogus to the max and of a Satanic nature if you ask me. People helping people seems a myth when it comes to government controlling others. And you know the government is not going to back down until someone rises up and speaks out.

      • John W
        January 8, 2017 at 3:32 pm

        I want to agree with you. I really do. I wish there was person who could step forward with an articulate, convincing argument of why the SOR is wrong. I long for someone to stand up and speak of how America, in spite of everything that is wrong with her, can recognize and correct the imperfections of our laws and regulations.

        From the beginning of this nation, which was arguably “Christian”, but unarguably “Biblical” in principle, we have been a “forgiving” nation. Every person was to be judged by their own merit, good or bad, and than rewarded or punished accordingly. I know I’m stating an over-the-top simplification and that it’s hard to think of, but it was an underlying principle. Our government has been guilty of a lot of vile things, yet at the same time, great things. Our government is not innocent, but not totally guilty either.

        Our government is “us”. We are that government! We are the ones who demanded the government take care of us. We are the ones who write the laws and regulations. We demanded everything! Remember the US Constitution Preamble that stated, “We the people…..”, or that little ditty quoted by Abe Lincoln: “of the people, by the people, for the people”. We are those people!!!

        Why can’t RSO’s come together to testify or demonstrate against the injustice?
        —-As a person on parole/probation: I would’t have been able to leave the county or state without written permission of a PO, which would not be granted, once I declare the When, Where, and Why. It is also cause for parole/probation to be pulled for knowingly being in the presence or company of another Ex-Felon, without written permission of the PO. (My brother and I can vouch for that). Those are the two catch-alls, but there are more.

        —-As an RSO. In Missouri, it’s just like being on parole/probation, except it’s the city, county and/or state police that’s reported to, in place of a PO. Also as a RSO, I am trying to maintain a livelihood, and I found that keeping a low profile is my best chance. I’ve also found that “Freedom of Speech” is only for opining the Federal Government in general. Speaking out publicly against local government or local police will not go over very well. Especially if using social media.

        —-As a Citizen. The possibility of putting the safety of my wife, children, and grandchildren in jeopardy because of some idiotic belief that “only a sex offender helps sex offenders and all sex offenders target children for their whole life.” (Remember what happens when the blind lead the blind!)

        I can go on and on about the things we have done to ourselves, because of ourselves, but I think I made my point. My crime was 37 yrs ago. I’m in my sixties, and I believe I am closer to death than I am to a messiah.

        Someone told me a long time ago that I don’t know what I don’t know. I thought that was a stupid way of ending a debate. Now, I know exactly what he meant!

  2. Erika
    January 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I apologize for the mistake. This was a “due process” challenge I was getting the 8th Cir. confused with the 8th Amendment.

  3. Erika
    January 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I wanted to write a follow up about 8th Amenment challenges:

    When you are making an 8th Amendment claim, you are challenging “the conditions of confinement” not the underlying issue that is causing the confinement. In other words you are putting the horse behind the cart. Why would anyone logically do that?

  4. Erika
    January 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    “…14 people released in a 20 year period?…” That is beyond ridiculous and you cannot even place that within the realm of logic or science without having some punitive motive for revenge.

    This has nothing to do with mental health nor public safety, they should just call it what it is “a prison” and excuse to gestapoize the constitution and bill of rights.

    What I am about to say may seem like a twist on logic but I have to agree with the decision of the 8th cir. because of the grounds on which it is being challenged and I have always said this in the past but it falls on deaf ears (as usual) and that is and always has been:

    “I do think that this is being challenged correctly based soley (terra firma) on an 8th amend. challenge, that is not the issue here, I have not read the decision but I do not need to because it is the same old rhetoric to these challenges. What needs to start happening are tort claims in “individual capacity” against the so called mental health professionals involved who are nothing more than robots (yes men and henchmen) that have no say so (authority) to exercise there State certified credentials which is basically a license to imprison people for the powers that be or they are just worried about getting a pay check from the State and that in itself is neither “professional” nor does it have anything to do with “mental health.” Seriously placing the underlying “Witch Science” behind this madness under serious empirical scrutiny is difficult if you are not challenging it directly. You cannot destroy the hive unless you destroy the queen bee (the Witch science)!”

  5. January 3, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Who doesn’t love a good battle and a good challenge. Isn’t that what men of human wisdom understand. Sure we all have problems each and ever one of us but man seems to want to solve problems man’s ways.
    I went thru sex offender treatment classes a few weeks. Did I get suspended or did they kick me out of the class. No…. I told them the truth and sometimes with man it is impossible to understand the human nature of man.
    Now while some of those men or women might have had an addiction to porn or some other thing the point is we all look at pretty women or men or some type of attraction or attribute of the opposite sex.
    Its just part of the game and another devious device that man will instill on those caught up in this sex offender game but remember the law is the law.
    These sex treatment programs are bogus snares’ if you ask me for their hopes that one won’t be in their do it again Sam programs of sex offender treatment.
    Everybody is different.

Comments are closed.