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Dispute over treatment approach for sex offenders

It is not uncommon for leglislators in Minnesota to disagree on the best way to approach difficult issues. In some situations, these disputes may fall along political party lines. Republicans, for example, tend to be thought of as wanting to crack down on what they see as criminal threats. Democrats tend to be thought of as more sympathetic to wanting to try and treat problems and rehabilitate people.

A Republican member of the state House of Representatives is urging the state to change its approach to sex crime offenses. Instead of adopting a treatment-based model, he is seeking to strengthen the punitive consequences associated with a sex crime conviction. The reason for the proposed change is concern about people who reoffend after being released from treatment programs.

Not everyone agrees with the approach and opponents point to a relatively low rate of reoffense in the state. Even with that rate being below seven percent, the lawmaker has yet to back down. His proposal would send people convicted of rape, child molestation or other violent sex crimes to prison for 60 years. Defendants would not receive treatment until they have served 40 years of their 60-year sentences.

While the proposed change in sex crime sentencing may never come to fruition, it is important for defendants to be aware of these discussions. Talking with an attorney after being accused of a sex crime may be helpful in understanding the legal ramifications of the charge and a potential conviction.


Source: CBS Minnesota, "After Heinrich Plea, Lawmaker Calls For Greater Sentences For Sex Offenders," Pat Kessler, Sept. 7, 2016

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