Sex Offenders Run for Office in Minnesota
Sex offenders civilly committed to a treatment facility in a small Minnesota town want more respect from the community and to get it, some of them are running for office.
The Moose Lake Sex Offender Treatment Program (MSOP) is for sex offenders who have completed their criminal sentences, but are deemed too dangerous to live without supervision. So they’re confined to the Moose Lake facility and are restrained by handcuffs and leg irons during any trips to the outside world, such as to a doctor.
The program’s residents would like to change the conditions under which they’re held. So they’re registering to vote—155 of them at last count—and putting some of their fellow offenders up as write-in candidates for Moose Lake mayor and city council. Since there are only 925 registered voters in the town, if a few more of the program’s 420 residents join the voting rolls one or more of them may become elected officials.
“There needs to be change in the city’s way of dealing with people that are here at MSOP,” resident Kenny Daywitt, who’s running for Moose Lake City Council, said according to KARE television.
The residents might get their wish. Already, they’ve cast 45 absentee ballots for the upcoming election, compared to 10 from other members of the community. If a MSOP resident wins the election, he could face some challenges. They wouldn’t be allowed to attend council meetings in person, but video conferencing has been suggested. Also, even though they’re allowed to vote, prior convictions might keep some from holding some offices.
Minnesota has the largest per-capita number of civilly committed sex offenders in the United States, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Some of them have sued the state for violating their due-process rights and denying them a chance at release.
Even if a resident is elected and the logistical challenges are hurdled, it still might not have much effect on the program. The city council has little say over the MSOP and can’t change the living conditions there. However, residents are hoping for a change in attitude from Moose Lake residents. “We want to demonstrate to the world that we’re not monsters and can live in the community,” Ben Alverson, a leader in the get-out-the-vote drive, told the Star-Tribune.
To Learn More:
In Search of Change, Sex Offenders at Moose Lake Run for Office (by Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Moose Lake Sex Offenders Wage Write-In Campaigns (by John Croman, KARE)
Supreme Court Upholds Imprisonment of Sex Offenders after Sentences Served (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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