After a federal lawsuit pushed the state toward releasing 680 civilly committed sex offenders who have essentially been serving life sentences, a task force is now considering some big changes.
The state spends $73 million annually to treat 680 convicted sex offenders at two lock-up facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter, all of whom are kept there under civil commitment laws. Most never leave, but that may be about to change.
Thomas Duvall is a convicted rapist who committed his crime and did his time a long time ago, but he still sits behind razor wire. That said, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman recently signed off on his release after turning him down just two years ago.
"When he came up this time, he had 27 conditions and we added more," Freeman said. "Mr. Duvall was not found guilty by his peers and given a sentence of life without parole. He's done everything anyone has asked and it would be wrong to keep him in."
FOX 9 News dug up the original police reports from 26 years ago that detail how Duvall raped a 17-year-old girl at knifepoint, tied her up with electrical cords and beat her over the head with a hammer. He served 13 years in prison and was then civilly committed as a sexual psychopath.
For the last 13 years, Duvall has been a so-called "client" in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. If his release is approved, he will be only the second man in the 20-year history of the MSOP to get out.
On Wednesday night, a court-ordered task force wrestled with what to do with the 680 other men in the program -- men who are four times more likely to reoffend than the average sex offender, yet half will never re-offend. Essentially, it's a coin flip.
"There is no ethical examiner who will say 'this man will re-offend' and 'this man won't,'" Dr. Michael Thompson said.
A Minnesota Supreme Court panel must sign off on releasing Duvall, and Freeman said he believes the state has a moral obligation to do so even though it could be a decision he may regret.
"Am I concerned? Sure," Freeman conceded. "Has he done what the law has asked? Yes. Are we going to be watching him every day? You betcha."
Freeman told FOX 9 News he has his own idea of what should be done. He recommends making the criminal sentences for some sex crimes indefinite, include treatment in prison and require convicts to prove they are better before they are released. As it stands, something must change.
"This is a life sentence," former judge Kathleen Gearin told the task force. "It's not a medical condition. You are being sentenced to life."
The task force has discovered one problem is that there are few places for sex offenders to go when they get out because there are few facilities which are less restrictive than Moose Lake and St. Peter.