Concerns with moving sex offender program to Cambridge

Dear Editor:

What a surprise to pick up the Saturday, Oct. 19 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and learn that the Department of Human Services has failed, once again, to protect the public from the dangerous clients that they are charged with treating. (“2nd Release Mishandled at St. Peter”).

One of their patients, “with a history of violence and inappropriate sexual behavior was discharged from the Minnesota Security Hospital last April, then delivered to a Minneapolis boarding facility where he repeatedly had sex with a vulnerable woman,” said the Star Tribune. The patient was sent back to St. Peter by Hennepin County authorities for a “forensic sexual evaluation they said he should have had before his release.”

Interestingly, DHS doesn’t believe this case reflected any errors on their part. The patient apparently did not receive therapy for his sexual behaviors. Assistant Commissioner Anne Barry said, “Sometimes in a new environment, people act out on old behaviors.”

This has disturbing implications for our community if DHS is allowed to transfer clients from their Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) to our community. I am taken aback by DHS’ lack of accountability, and their refusal to acknowledge that they made a mistake. What does this say about how they will handle things here in Cambridge? Moreover, given that sexual psychopathology can only be managed, not cured (DHS words from community meetings), how concerned should we be that DHS does not always appropriately treat their patients, and then refuses to even apologize for their screw up? With the dangerous clientele they are responsible for, it is unacceptable to let even one fall through the cracks, let alone two.

Ironically, when I turned the page of the newspaper to read the continuation on another page, the remainder of the article was placed next to a story about the nursing board being scrutinized. I accidentally read the third column of that story, thinking I was reading the same story I started, but I could just as well have been reading from the same story. State Senator Tina Liebling said in the story about the nursing board, “We need to understand more about how they strike this balance between protecting the public and making sure that people who can be rehabilitated … that they monitor those conditions. There is a balance to be struck there.”

Additionally, that story about the nurses board repeated a quote from Governor Mark Dayton: “It would appear the board is more interested in protecting bad nurses than the public.” It is good that Governor Dayton is concerned about protecting the public, as it apparently needs protection against the attitudes and practices of DHS. We need to let Governor Dayton know that we have a particular concern about DHS’ attitudes and practices, as they have grave implications for our town. DHS doesn’t care about us, but maybe their boss will.

Mara Renier