DUE PROCESS TV SHOW SEGMENT OF STU (SPECIAL TREATMENT UNIT) CIVIL COMMITMENT PROGRAM. WHERE MR. RODNEY ROBERTS WAS WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED FOR 17 YEARS. Please review links to the TV show and information.
Russell (Mac-T) Tinsley
Civilly Committed In United States' True "Hidden Enemy" Revealed In Commitment Hearings
Thanks to all of you for your outstanding support, and donations from across the country tirelessly to expose psychiatric violations of human rights, under the injustice of civil commitment for citizens charged with sex offenses.
However, there appears to be some misunderstanding as to the goals of my mission. Therefore, let me attempt to clarify my goals:
My supporters and I, want to post on the Internet as much pertinent, reliable information as possible about First, my being a victim to the psychiatrics' violations of my human rights, and how I am being treated unfairly by the civil commitment abuse.
We encourage you to read our free educational materials and information from us and the various organizations and/or support groups. However, be advised that this material will be published on the Internet for viewing by the world, to gain International attention, to one of the most injustice against Americans. There will be no privacy.
We will consider posting legal decisions that affect my civil commitment abuse and other decisions that affect sex offenders laws and psychiatrists' crimes. We want to share general information with you, about the sex offender programs, conditions of confinement and control.
Our material posted on this page will be directly related to the issue of civil commitment of sex offenders and conditions of confinement, as well as all the psychiatric violations of this civil commitment and abuse and get the laws changed. There are a small numbers of volunteers doing the actual Internet work, who are not attorneys, and cannot help with my case, not to mention others, more personal, issues not affecting Civil Detainees as a whole. Please do not contact us with these concerns.
Our intent is to post on this page usable educational materials and information on the Internet so that detainees, their family and concerned free citizens across the country can become informed about unfairly sex offenders laws, and exposing the dangers of psychiatric human rights and/or civil commitment abuses can become informed about the country unfairly sex offenders programs.
On this page, you will find our complete criteria information for you to read.
Please be aware that we need your continuing support, to share this information.
We need to establish a network of volunteers in the country to download, print and email the gathered material to representatives of various organizations and government officials. Please contact or forward this information to anyone you know who might be able to help.
We also need money, and we are selling you things on this website to raise funds, from those peoples who can help us and to support our efforts. However, we do accept donations through PayPal, on our websites, from concerned citizens across the country, who wish to support this effort.
If anyone knows of a possible contact in a state where we presently have contacts, please provide us with their information and/or provide them with our contact information. There are a total of 20 states with similar sex offenders programs and our goal is to "network" each state together via this process and the Internet.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information and we will continue to keep you informed. We hope that you'll keep supporting Russell Mac T Tinsley, and to share this key information about his case. Working together we can keep everyone informed and let the public know what is really going on!
Don't forget to inform your friends and families that they can now download the presently available information from Russell Tinsley's update, from his defense against the injustice of civil commitment abuse, and by the dangers of psychiatric human rights abuses.
To follow Tinsley v Main Federal Court Lawsuit Litigation, please visit this link:
The Special Treatment Unit (STU) EXPOSED!
Is there any justice in America, under civil commitment of sex offenders, at the STU's facility program? The fact is NO!
Even though a law suit was brought by one of a female psychiatric professional, Dr. Vivian Shanaidman, against the State of New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health Services - (DHS)- (STU) and she sued the present facility Clinical Director Merrill Main (M.M.) for sexual harassment and retaliation against her because of her complaints. There was a lawsuit settlement, but how is it that (M.M.) is still the (STU) - Clinical Director? One where Russell Mac T Tinsley is being punished and wrongfully confined and under the control and care of this sexually charged clinical director's supervision?
The Government of the State of New Jersey is clearly covering it up, by intimidating the civil commitment judges, psychiatric and lawyers into silence and writing fraudulent reports and negligent representation. Dr. Vivian Shnaidman's successful lawsuit reports the reason for such secrecy, discrimination against anyone, against this civil commitment abuse and get the laws changed because of the injustice of keeping someone locked up for life, and under the fake diagnosis to justify civil commitment because the (STU) can generate enough dividends to be a taxpayers' expense! Learn more about this breathtaking discovery.
Vivian Shnaidman vs.State of NJ Department of Human Services, (STU, Avenel)
Dr. Vivian Shnaidman filed a lawsuit against the Special Treatment Unit (STU) in Avenel, NJ due to sexual and verbal harassment at her workplace. The STU staff conduct were inappropriate towards Dr.Shnaidman which this lawsuit goes into detail of the events that happened during her employment at the Special Treatment Unit.
Vivian V. State of NJ.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [436.0 KB]
Right now, if you wish to pursue a better understanding more about civil commitments and/or if you with to support Russell Tinsley to do a better job of educating the public about the civil commitment system. Please order his new book and title "Civilly Committed" and/or his new CD. We are convinced that this public education is a critical element of any effort to improve and/or eliminate these systems.
We do need your financial support, in/or effort to allocate on behalf of circumstances surrounding the civil commitment of Russel Tinsley.
Please make your donations today, please buy his new book "Civilly Committed" and/or CD and please buy a free "Mac T" T-shirt.
Now you can support Russel "Mac- T" Tinsley by ordering his books visiting these links below
Free Russell Tinsley from a New Jersey Prison punishing him wrongfully.......
PLAYZA CLUB RECORDS AND PIMPIN ENTERTAINMENT
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Concerned American Citizens and Civil and Human Right Group’s or Media:From: Russell Tinsley, CEO and Founder Playza Club Records Co. RE: American Friends Civilly Committed Illegally Our protest to free Russell Tinsley from a New Jersey Prison punishing him wrongfully, and he needs your help, also we are sending you our Email and link http://www.pimpinentertainment.net/obama-tribute
. The illegal civil commitment process of Russell Tinsley who needs your support and donations against the injustice sexual offender laws, that must be reformed, especially, for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the civil commitment of Russell Tinsley, at the Special Treatment Unit, in Avenel, New Jersey, Illegal and wrongful civil commitment process. We are calling on the Public, Media, Civil and Human Rights Groups as well as the Federal Government or upon the President Obama Tribute, indeed that with the urgency by the people in support to reform the sex offender laws’ protest for the proper authorities’ investigation, surrounding the illegal civil commitment of Russell Tinsley as well as against the racial and religious discrimination he is receiving.Please give your support “TODAY” and/or make your donation in our cause, as well as to share our website Obama-Tribute and civil commitment link with other concerned American citizens, about this injustice and illegal civil commitment process. Thank you for your Support of the 2012 Obama-Tribute on our website at www.pimpinentertainment.net/Obama-Tribute
, and about the injustice of civil commitment from Russell Tinsley, who needs your support for this injustice and mistreatment at Special Treatment Unit in Avenel, New Jersey. Please pledge a make your contribution donation “TODAY” call Russell Tinsley at 1-888-202-1699 ext. 101 for more information. Our goals to get a Civil Rights/ Human Rights Attorney for our litigation against this corruptions in our unconstitutional civil commitment regime, especially in the illegal state of New Jersey, and where Russell Tinsley is being held. Our goal is to get good media and public as well as to attract support from political leaders including President Obama… with our Obama-Tribute, we must reach President Obama immediately, and get more good media coverage…Our Proposal New Sex Offender Laws…Let us not be willing to give up our essential liberties to obtain the false safety of these restrictive laws made against sex offenders by politicians who are pimping and pandering for political gain. Please give your support to Russell Tinsley “MAKE YOUR CONTRIBUTION DONATIONS”.
Please the organizer with any questions.
More about this campaign
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT We are calling on the Obama Administration and the world community! Russell Mac-T Tinsley needs your support from the injustice and law at the special treatment unit in Avenel, New Jersey. This is a Russell Mac-T Tinsley protest to free him from illegal incarceration requesting help from the Obama Administration and we need community advocate on his behalf. We simply need to have the resources and funds to complete the research as well as to hire a civil or constitutional rights attorney that will be able to credibly advocate for his release. He is hoping that his website www.pimpinentertainment.net/obamatribute
end the civil committment blues and talk shoe live broadcast from civil commitment with three inmates will educate and inspire his fans, friends, family, and supporters to become advocates for improvement and or abolishing of civil commitment system. Give your support and make you donation today! For more information, write to Russell Mac-T Tinsley at:
P.O. Box 905 Avenel, NJ 07001
Share Why You Support "Free Russell Tinsley from a New Jersey Prison punishing him wrongfully.........."
New book Authored by Russell (Mac T) Tinsley who need your support from the injustice in law at the special treatment unit in Avenel, New Jersey.
This book "Civilly Committed" is in support to free Russell (Mac T) Tinsley from the New Jersey prison punishing him wrongfully. The readers will be shown how Russell Tinsley is trying to make good progress in his treatment and how the State's psychiatrists and therapists at the Special Treatment Unit, needlessly keeps him away from treatment necessary to advance towards release, when in fact, they suppose to give him the credit towards this progress, as well as to let the civil commitment's court aware about his progress.
This book is authored by Russell Tinsley and by some of his supporters to educate the Public about the good progress Russell Tinsley is making in his treatments' groups and how much he has learned from his mistakes as well as how serious he is about not re offending and would like to process this information as just one of his discharge plans, to educate the Public, about hows he is doing all he can to do to make steps in the right direction and he would appreciate the thoughts of the Public about this book, with their feedback.
We believe the Public will like to know about Russell Tinsley's progress he has been making, to help him out of his situation, with their protest for his discharge from civil commitment, as well as can be used to further provide their concern; or support for their argument not only for his discharge, but to get the civil commitment judges, state and federal representatives; or state senators and governors alike, to advocate for the improvements needed to make changes in the civil commitment's laws.
We are hoping that the News Media will cover Mr. Tinsley's story about his civil commitment and the conditions of his confinements, that will educate and inspire the Public to continue their support to become advocates for improvements and/or for the abolition of these harsh civil commitment systems.
We further believe, the Public has a right to know whats really happening about the circumstances surrounding other residents "civilly committed" at the Special Treatment Unit, in Avenel, New Jersey, with no hope of ever getting out of being lock-away for life, from the free world.
If the Public only knew the real truth behind civil commitment, that's being kept away from them, they would not only be an Public outrage, but it will be an out lash of support to release Russell Tinsley.
The information in this book is Russell Tinsley's approach to process his treatment participation with the Public, and an giant step in the right direction, further then just processing his information about Therapy-Treatment in his groups, so that the Public may have a better understanding of Russell Tinsley's character development, for release.
Volume 24, Issue 4 Fall 2015
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has supported the program as a needed public safety tool. He has said judges
In this issue:
Page 2: From the Editor’s Desk
Page 3: Judge - Continued
Page 4: New Jersey Civil Commitment Program
Page 5: Progress Through Psychotherapy
Conclusion of Hearing Offers
Page 6: Hearing Offers Minn. Sex Offender Program
ST. LOUIS • In an awaited ruling from the federal bench, U.S. District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig ruled Sept. 11 that Missouri’s sexually violent predator law is constitutional, but not how sits applied.
The judge wrote that there is a “pervasive sense of hopelessness” at the Department of Mental Health’s Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services, or SORTS program, because patients aren’t being properly released.
With help from the state attorney general’s office, SORTS is indefinitely committing about 200 people to treatment on the belief that they might reoffend. The program has been praised and criticized since it began in 1999.
Before the trial started in April, nobody had completed treatment and been allowed to live outside of secure SORTS facilities in Fulton or Farmington. They entered the program after completing prison sentences for sex crimes.
“The overwhelming evidence at trial — much of which came from Defendants’ own experts — did establish that the SORTS civil commitment program suffers from systemic failures regarding risk assessment and release that have resulted in the continued confinement of individuals who no long meet the criteria for commitment, in violation of the Due Process Clause,” Fleissig wrote in her ruling.
“The Constitution,” the judge added, “does not allow (Missouri officials) to impose lifetime detention on individuals who have completed their prison sentences and who no longer pose a danger to the public, no matter how heinous their past conduct.”
Those issues were to be addressed in the remedy portion of the trial. A hearing was scheduled Sept. 29.
“I can’t believe it, man,” said John Van Orden, 55, who lived in the Springfield, Mo., area before being committed to SORTS in 2005. “It’s hard to describe after all that we have been through here. Finally, we get some light at the end of the tunnel.”
The class-action lawsuit began in 2009.
Eric Selig, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “We hope to work with the attorney general’s office and the Department of Mental Health to fix the program and start releasing the people who have successfully completed treatment, which is what the statute is all about.”
Nanci Gonder, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster, said by email: “We are reviewing the ruling and decline to comment further on pending litigation.”
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has supported the program as a needed public safety tool. He has said judges weigh annual reports to determine when patients deserve to be released. And the Legislature, now Republican –controlled, adds a layer of oversight, scrutinizing the program’s budget.
. Plaintiffs’ attorneys attempted to punch holes in these positions and others during the eight-day federal bench trial that ended here April 30.
The judge agreed. In her ruling, she said the state of Missouri has not:
Performed annual reviews in accordance with the Sexually Violent Predator Act.
Properly implemented any program to ensure the least restrictive environment.
Implemented release procedures, including director authorization for releases, in the manner required by the law.
Judge Rules Handling of Missouri Program is Unconstitutional
By Jesse Bogan, St.Louis Post-Dispatch
From the Editor’s Desk
By Wayne Bowers
Legal decisions by judges continue to occur and to point to methods used in civil commitment as unconstitutional and more media attention is criticizing the residency laws, along with court action. Minnesota and Missouri civil commitment programs have been deemed unconstitutional as you’ve followed in other stories and it would be my thought that the other 18 states with such programs are scrambling as they see the writing on the wall. The frustration is the slow movement of a settlement on these two states’ decisions as lawmakers stonewall and claim what is being done is constitutional. It appears further court action is imminent. . .
The New York Times’ editorial of Sept. 8 granted that everyone wants to make sure children are safe. But they stated in their conclusion, “But not all people who have been convicted of sex offenses pose a risk to children, if they pose any risk at all. Blanket residency-restriction laws disregard that reality — and the merits of an individualized approach to risk assessment — in favor of a comforting mirage of safety.” The editorial pointed out that judges are striking back as state Supreme Courts in California, Massachusetts and New York struck down residency laws in 2015. . . .
There are other court challenges in the works. And there also are individual efforts to challenge their civil detainment. One such person who has contacted us is Russell Tinsley, held in the New Jersey STU unit for over five years. He has a promotion team and press release promoting his book Civilly Committed! He breaks down the treatment program he has attempted to follow to improve his life and challenges the need for lawmakers to make improvements and changes to the civil commitment laws. His efforts can be found at www.russelltinsley.vpweb.com to obtain a copy of the book. . . .
We follow monthly the efforts of a Kansas coalition seeking to get change in their civil commitment facility and we are now also communicating with a New Jersey group of people seeking change in that state. They too are learning the slow movement of process and improvement but are diligent in their efforts. . . . More coordinated efforts by people with Reform Sex Offender Laws are making specific challenges and bringing public attention to registry and residency laws in particular states. As this organization gains more stature and experience, and people in various states are willing to go public, challenges of media approaches to stories and of specific action toward individuals is bringing exposed.
No space for letters in this edition but one that came from a long-time member of CURE-SORT named Clifford in California made interesting points, “Things do move slow to change as many of us sit in here, as states as California make many of us and family/friends wonder if they/us will see ‘real’ change in our lifetime. Prisons and the outside do have a certain negative mindset toward these kind. 100-108 degree days in a state yelling for water. Many might start moving out of state. Many are saying California is getting ‘pay-back’ for its wrongs!”
At the center of the case in Missouri—and other states struggling with similar laws—was the question of whether SORTS facilities genuinely rehabilitate sex offenders, or are merely an extra layer of punishment outside of the prison system. In June, a federal judge in Minnesota ruled that indefinitely committing sex offenders is unconstitutional.
While the Missouri Attorney General’s Office argued at trial that progress is being made in treatment, plaintiffs’ attorneys harped on the fact that no patient had been released back into society. They used the state’s own witness to point out a sense of hopelessness among staff and patients, who already have completed prison sentences before being detained indefinitely for treatment.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys sifted through hundreds of thousands of pages of the program’s documents, including a memo from former chief of operations who wrote in 2009 that 16 patients could be moved to the St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center, a less restrictive facility at 5300 Arsenal Street.
In the memo, Alan Blake wrote that the top five of those 16 patients could be moved “today” and “easily” pass a test that shows they can live close to neighbors without harm.
“The rest may need greater support/treatment, but don’t represent a risk to the community in terms of compliance and appreciation of their situation,” Blake added. “The setting would likely enhance their treatment and provide motivation.”
The memo went on to say that a few of the patients would even make good employees or peer counselors at the St. Louis rehab center.
Testimony in the federal case showed that those details — ones that seemed to show favorable patient progress — weren’t included in the annual reports to courts that make the ultimate decision about release.
With the addition of 20 SORTS patients a year and nobody being released, plaintiffs’ attorneys pressed the issue of reforming the program and developing a fast track to a nursing home for elderly and infirm patients. At least 17 patients have died in the program, including one who was well into his 80s.
Joel Poole, chief litigator for the attorney general’s office, told the court in April that the program had passed federal scrutiny in a Civil Rights Act case brought by a patient in 2009. U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber weighed complaints and concerns in that case about treatment and wrote in his decision that some treatment likely fell below professional standards but not enough to “shock the conscience” to be declared constitutionally inadequate.
SORTS today is a substantially better program than it was in 2009,” Poole said during closing arguments. “It is moving toward its goals.”
He said the program became accredited as a mental hospital and provides treatment with a series of phases to work through, including the goal of release.
“This program is working hard to get people out,” Poole said.
But, in her ruling, Fleissig wrote that “systemic failures have created a pervasive sense of hopelessness at SORTS that is undermining what little improvement the SORTS treatment programs have made.”
Since the first phase of the trial ended in April, the Department of Mental Health said two patients have been allowed to leave SORTS, but under certain conditions.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Wayne Bowers Thomas Chleboski
Norman, OK Baltimore, MD
Ila Davis Mike Dell
Birch Run, MI Colorado Springs, CO
Dr. Nancy Irwin David LaMure
Los Angeles, CA Alto, NM
Jim Prager Dr. JoEllen Wiggington Toledo, OH Van Nuys, CA
CURE-SORT News is a publication of CURE-SORT. SORT stands for Sex Offenders Restored through Treatment. CURE-SORT is one of eight issue chapters of a national criminal justice reform organization known as Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), located in Washington, D.C. CURE’s address is P.O. Box 2310,
Washington, D.C. 20013. For more information on CURE-SORT, send letters to:
P.O. Box 1022
Norman, OK 73070-1022
Editor and Publisher: Wayne Bowers Production Assistant: Ed Gundersen
A look at NJ Civil Commitment
Program Shows Similarities
(Summarized from an article by Gil Greenfield)
Within the last year, a couple of States have had their civil commitment of sex offenders challenged in the federal courts. The courts in these actions have ruled that the act is unconstitutional. In both, Missouri and Minnesota, the court determined that these statutes feIl short of constitutional muster because of the lack of due process protections. The courts went on to point out that many of these due process infractions were because patients were not being released or given the ability to be released.
“New Jersey has continuously boasted about being the leader in sex offender punishment and treatment. Neither the treatment nor the punishment has ever been scrutinized in a court of law.” Yes, NJ has continued to be a leader, only this time in violating a settlement agreement by not making any changes agreed to under a Court Ordered settlement.
NJ law requires a review of commitment cases yearly but it rarely happens. In most cases, NJ residents may go 2 to 3 years without a yearly review. In some cases, there have been several residents that have gone as long as 8 years without a yearly review hearing. NJ's Civil Commitment law lacks oversight.
The Sex Offender Civil Commitment Program is supposed to be overseen by the State's Attorney General, However, the Attorney General does not review the State's program. Rather, it has turned that responsibility over to the program’s director. Due to a lack of proper oversight, the residents are stuck within various phases of the program and may be told they are locked up for life and that there is nothing that they can do to gain their release.
Taking into account a statement by the justices, "the constitution is something that is applied to everyone, regardless of what these persons have done or how atrocious or heinous it the therapeutic needs of the residents, points to NJ’s program being a sham.
This, by the way, was also talked about within the Missouri and Minnesota cases. If NJ was really about having a transparent government, then the citizens would not only be aware of the civil commitment program for sex offenders, but they would be made aware of the financial burden that is placed on the citizens of NJ for basically relocking people up for crimes and behaviors that, in most cases, do not exist anymore. Keep in mind the cost of the overall treatment, housing, court costs, the cost the assistance that is given to the families of the men civilly committed by the state of NJ, and the lawyers’ fees, which re in excess of six figures a year. It is a cost that could be used to stop laying off cops and firefighters.
Past Offenses Can Lead to Walsh Act Registry
A question received is why a person is subject to the sex offender registry if their charge was some other type of felony. There must be a previous sex offense in the person’s history that triggers the new law under the Adam Walsh Act, that a person is then subject to the registry upon release on another type of charge.
A Texas prisoner wrote to bring this up. In 1987 he was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a minor and had a 6 year sentence, but paroled in 1989. There was no registry at that time. He was arrested in 1991 for armed robbery and received a 99 year sentence. He has now been incarcerated for 24 years and finally made parole.
However, because of the sexual offense in his past, he has to participate in the treatment program at the prison and also when released for two years and also will have to register for the rest of his life.
Many people who have similar situations and were not familiar with the Adam Walsh Act are learning of this additional requirement at the close of some felony charge that is not sexual in nature.
Progress Through Psychotherapy
By Dr. JoEllen Wiggington
Pacific Professional Associates
Member of CURE-SORT Board
EDITOR’S NOTE: As our mission is to promote the importance of counseling for the recovery of those who have sexually offended, when appropriate, a discussion will be held in each issue along this topic.
As our name highlights, CURE-SORT is dedicated to the idea that sex offender specific
treatment (therapy) is key to navigating the issues faced by perpetrators of sexual assault. Treatment is valuable in identifying and resolving the conflicts and concerns that may lead to offense behavior and establishing strategies to avoid re-offense. While many offenders believe they have no need of treatment, it can also be very helpful to have emotional support and understanding while complying with the various requirements one faces upon release from incarceration
Sex offender specific treatment can take a variety of forms. Some states mandate a specific approach, such as the Containment Model in California, which requires treatment providers to be certified to provide treatment, to collaborate with parole/ probation and polygraph examiners with limits to client confidentiality. Other states and the federal system may offer treatment within the prison community.
Whatever the form of treatment, the essential, healing aspect of all psychotherapies is the treatment alliance: the relationship between the therapist and the client that fosters growth and development. A pioneer in the sex offender treatment community, William Marshall and his colleagues (Marshall et al., 2002, 2003, in Mann) established empirical evidence that therapist characteristics such as warmth, empathy, directiveness, and reward predict treatment benefits in sexual offenders. Offenders with the option of choosing a treatment provider, would do well to seek out these characteristics in a therapist to maximize the benefits of treatment.
Our next issue in this ongoing series will deal with some of the similarities and differences between traditional psychotherapy and sex offender specific benefit even those who may have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct.
CURE-SORT Board adds
Jim Prager of Toledo, OH, joined the CURE-SORT Board in August. He has gone full cycle in his life as he was once convicted of a sex offense, but now is a licensed social worker in Ohio. He is an advocate for citizens returning to society after incarceration, an author and developer of Prison CONveration.
Prior to his conviction he had 17 years of clinical social work experience.“I believe the stigma and shame society places on sex offenders, along with the restrictions, represent fear and what is wrong with society,” Prager says. “I support restorative justice programs, treatment programs for sexual dysfunction, and the belief that people can change and will change if we provide support and guidance.”
Prager is married and has 26 year old twins.
Minnesota Hearing Offers Prelude to Coming Fight
By Briana Bierschbach, MinnPost
The letters to U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank have come from all sides: from sex offenders locked up inside the state’s treatment program who are hoping to get out; from the victims and their families who hope those same sex offenders never see freedom.
All of it was in anticipation of what lawyers in Frank’s St. Paul courtroom Sept. 30 referred to as “Judgment Day.”
In June, Frank ruled that the 20-year-old Minnesota Sex Offender Treatment program is unconstitutional. But to the surprise of some, he didn’t order any specific changes to the program at that time, instead calling state lawmakers into his courtroom in August to try to hash out a solution.
But lawmakers showed little interest in participating, and Frank is running out of options. His next move — which will come sometime in the next 30 days — is to order the state to make specific changes to the troubled program, which the judge says offers the promise of treatment but has instead served as a place to indefinitely keep sex offenders locked away from the public.
“They are due their day in court,” said Dan Gustafson, an attorney representing sex offenders in the program.
Case could drag on for years
It’s been a long road to get even this far. The class-action lawsuit that led to the unconstitutional ruling was first filed four years ago.
But as the Sept. 30 proceedings made clear, the case has the potential to drag on much, much longer. As soon as Frank issues his orders to make specific changes to MSOP, the state has already said it will appeal his ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. State officials were already readying their argument before they arrived in Frank’s courtroom Wednesday, filing an affidavit in federal court last week that reasoned that funding and staff shortages — not to mention opposition from the public — meant it would be unrealistic to enforce reforms.
“The program, as it is being run today, is constitutional and we ought to be talking about those reforms in the Legislature,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, who oversees the program. “It shouldn’t be directed by the court.”
If the Eighth Circuit imposes a stay on Frank’s order — a distinct possibility — any changes he orders would have to halt until there’s a ruling in the appeal case. That could mean another 12 to 24 months before anything happens, according to Gustafson.
How far will reforms go?
In the short term, the big question is how far Frank will go in his reforms. He laid out more than a dozen changes he’d like to see to the program in his June ruling, from immediate reviews of all the offenders in the program to developing less-restrictive alternatives, like halfway houses or group homes, for offenders who are no longer considered a danger to society. He has also appointed former Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson as a special master to oversee the program. In states like Washington, where a judge ruled its program unconstitutional in the 1990s, the courts and a special master took over the program for more than a decade.
Hearing Offers –
Gustafson suggested in court that the judge could fine lawmakers $1,000 a day per resident (there are now 720 total offenders locked up in the program) until they fix constitutional problems. “Nothing gets the attention of politicians ... like money going out the door,” Gustafson said.
Frank reiterated that he’s not interested in releasing sex offenders en masse from the program without putting in place transitional procedures for both the state and offenders. Only five people have ever been released from MSOP's campuses in Moose Lake and St. Peter in its 20-year history, all under intensive supervision. .But ordering the release of offenders is not an unprecedented move, he added. Two years ago a federal court in California ordered the release of nearly 10,000 prison inmates after the state ignored the court’s repeated calls to solve severe prison overcrowding.
“It’s in the air here,” Frank said.