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Lawmakers aim to change unconstitutional program

Illinois residents may be interested to hear about a Minnesota policy regarding sex offenders. Those who are deemed to be especially dangerous will stay in a hospital that is surrounded by barbed wire even after they have finished their prison terms. Currently, there 720 offenders in custody at a cost of $120,000 a year per person to taxpayers in the state.

In the 21 years since the program first started, not a single person has been granted a full release and only four have been granted a provisional release. This has led to questions about the program's effects on the civil rights of those in custody. It has led lawmakers and other interested parties to hold a meeting aimed at potentially changing the program. Although changes have been talked about in the past, it has been deemed politically risky to act on any proposals.

The federal judge who deemed the current program unconstitutional in June was the one who asked for the meeting. Although no concrete changes are expected to come from the meeting, it could affect how Minnesota and other states handle sex offenders. One attorney who represents those charged or convicted with such offenses said that he would ask for clearer discharge guidelines. Taking into account court rulings and appeals, it could take weeks or months before new guidelines are passed.

Those who are facing sex crime criminal charges may want to obtain the advice of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to determine the best strategy to use before or at trial. In some cases, legal counsel may determine that negotiating an agreement with the prosecutor that involves pleasing guilty to a lesser offense would be advisable.

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