Rep. Johnson raises concerns with sex offender plans at Cambridge facility

Rep. Brian Johnson, Cambridge
District 32A

I was concerned to hear last week the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), under Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Governor Dayton, is considering plans that would move a half-dozen or more dangerous sexual predators to a facility in our own backyard.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) currently provides sex offender treatment to civilly committed sex offenders at two secure facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter. Current law provides that if these offenders demonstrate to the courts that they no longer pose a danger to society, they can obtain supervised release into the community.  Over the last few years, the Dayton administration has contemplated ways to speed up the process and move some offenders back into society through something called ‘less restrictive alternatives.’  JohnsonB 32A

Last spring, several legislative committees examined legislation that would have changed how MSOP is carried out in Minnesota. The idea was debated and public testimony was taken, raising many concerns that ultimately led to the bill’s failure. Now, Dayton’s administration is attempting to institute a move of some offenders to Cambridge by executive action. DHS did not notify me that this move was under strong consideration, and I live within two miles of this facility. Instead, I read about it in a news story article Sept. 12. Our families deserve more information on this proposal before a decision is made, not after. I’m disappointed in the lack of transparency by DHS in this matter.

State officials claim the current Cambridge health system facility will be secure and highly supervised. Yet, lawmakers have yet to be briefed on planned budgets for additional security measures to keep our neighborhoods safe from these potentially dangerous offenders. In fact, I am concerned the Cambridge facility is being considered specifically for its openness and lack of security— officials have said it is their goal to transition some offenders back into our community.

I hope to have more information on this issue in the coming weeks. I have joined Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, in sending a letter to Commissioner Jesson asking for public hearings and input on this issue. If you have any questions in the meantime about future changes to the MSOP, contact DHS.