Sex Offender Facility Lawsuit

By KBJR News 1

November 19, 2010 Updated Nov 19, 2010 at 10:28 AM CDT

Gary Mattson has been locked up since he was a teenager.

When he was 18 he sexually molested a three year old girl and was sent to prison.

After his six year prison term he was committed to the sex offender program and hasn't had a day of freedom since then.

"I'd say 21 years is pretty heavy consequence for something I was told I'd only have to pay six years for," says Mattson.

A heavy consequence that William Mitchell College of Law professor Eric Janus says is illegal.

"I am a very strong advocate of strong and effective measures by the state to deal with sexual violence. I'm also a strong advocate of taking those measures within the confines of the law," says Janus.

Since The Minnesota Sex Offender Program began in 1993 not one person has been successfully treated and released.

26 men have died in lock-up.

Currently there are 552 men in the program.

The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union says that's unconscionable.

"You can't put people in jail for crimes they haven't yet committed, There's a presumption of innocence in the state constitution," says Executive Director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union Chuck Samuelson.

Samuelson calls all sex offender civil commitment programs illegal and immoral but says Minnesota's is the worst in the nation.

"Every other state has released some number of people," says Samuelson.

The Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the conditions in the Moose Lake facility.

That, in fact, they aren't in a hospital, they are in a jail.

Gary Mattson's mother visited her son in prison and visits him regularly in Moose Lake.

She didn't want her identity revealed but told us the security in the sex offender program is greater than it was in prison.

"I've been through the metal detector and ended up doing a body search because it wasn't working," says Mattson's mother.

Mattson says the whole system isn't working.

He says the residents are being warehoused and until there's enough pressure, legal or financial, it won't change.

"It's fed on by hate, because, let's face it, the only way people get elected these days is if they promise to do something bad to people society hates," says Mattson.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin has been a tough prosecutor against sex offenders but he feels there comes a time when most of these men should be released.

"I believe that people can be changed, and at least they can be monitored so if they are going to be released after a lengthy period of incarceration, at least we know where they are through this wonderful registration system that we have," says Rubin.

Facing mounting pressure from the legislature, mostly due to the ever-increasing cost of the program, the Minnesota Sex Offender Program is getting ready to release up to six offenders.

But Samuelson questions the rigorous monitoring that will be part of the release.

"It appears frankly that these releases are, fiction might be a little harsh, but they are certainly not a release in any way, shape or form," says Samuelson.

But Dan Cain, whose company monitors sex offenders released in Minnesota feels the restrictions being planned for the releases are an important step.

"I think that the Dept. of Human Services has taken every precaution with the inevitable knowledge that they're going to come out, that they come out with the greatest degree of safety for the community and support for their transition back into it," says Cain.

Spokespeople for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program say they expect to release up to six men by late November.

They stress there will be active monitoring of the released sex offenders including on-going residential treatment, GPS monitoring, and regular polygraph testing.