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Sex offender programs may change after federal ruling

Ohioans who stand charged with sex crimes may be interested to hear about a June 2015 federal ruling that could change the way the accused are treated in Minnesota and other jurisdictions. According to reports, 700 individuals sued the state because its sex-offender program effectively left them incarcerated for the rest of their lives even though they had already served their jail sentences satisfactorily. These individuals, many of whom were patients at two major facilities, were committed to the program in accordance with common law, but formal inquiries revealed that none of them had a chance of exiting the facility even if they responded favorably to treatment.

Although the judge ruled the existing sex-offender program unconstitutional the state's governor maintains that it didn't violate anyone's rights. At the time of reporting, however, the judicial order hadn't become finalized, so it remains to be seen whether the state might appeal the decision. The state was granted a two-month period to provide solutions before the courts mandate specific remedies.

Although the annual cost of housing offenders in the facilities, which were described as similar to prisons, is more than $124,000, legislators denied proposals that would provide funds and resources for the eventual release of improved individuals. The judge admitted that some offenders are too dangerous to release, but he noted that others should have already been freed.

Politics can play a significant role in the way accused sex offenders are treated. Legislators with their eyes on re-election may resist any changes that might be perceived as supporting the rights of indicted individuals. Those who have been formally charged with sex crimes or contacted by the authorities in such regards often find it beneficial to learn about their legal options prior to responding.

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