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Governor Pawlenty Outlines Aggressive Plan to Increase Sentences and Better Track Sex Offenders

Location: Saint Paul, MN


~ Includes more than $100 million to provide for tougher sentences, enhanced supervision ~

Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced a series of aggressive, comprehensive reforms designed to increase public safety and lock-up sex offenders for longer periods of time. The plan includes more than $100 million in funding for enhanced sentences, supervision and treatment of sex offenders and additional money for 850 more prison beds.

"Sex offenders are the worst of the worst," said Governor Pawlenty. "My preference is to allow the voters of Minnesota a chance to re-establish the death penalty to deal with sex offenders who kill their victims. The legislature has prevented that, but we are taking steps to deal with sex offenders with strong measures that include longer prison terms and intensive supervision. My plan will lock-up sex offenders for significantly longer than current law and will provide for indefinite incarceration for the most violent. It will also greatly strengthen tracking, monitoring and supervision of sex offenders who complete their sentences."

The Governor's proposal incorporates elements of work done by the Governor's Commission on Sex Offender Policy, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, and the Legislative Auditor.

The Governor's plan includes:

· Stronger sentences that lock up the most dangerous offenders indefinitely.

· Increased prison time for all categories of sex offenders.

· Greatly enhancing our capabilities to track, monitor and supervise offenders.

The announcement of the Governor's policy agenda for the 2005 legislative session coincided with the receipt of the Final Report of the Governor's Commission on Sex Offender Policy. In September of last year, Governor Pawlenty named the 12-member panel to closely examine the state's practices in sentencing, treatment, tracking and supervising sex offenders.

"I am very grateful for the work of the Commission Members," continued Pawlenty. "Their analysis, assessment and recommendations are appreciated. My proposal builds on many of their recommendations, as well as recommendations from the Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the Legislative Auditor's report, to improve public safety in Minnesota."

Governor Pawlenty's reform package touches upon six important areas of sex offender management: (1) Sentencing; (2) Assessment and Treatment; (3) Civil Commitment; (4) Community Supervision; (5) Abuse Prevention; and, (6) Implementing Best Practices.

Highlights of Pawlenty's proposal include:

· Blending recent sentencing proposals (from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the Governor's Commission on Sex Offender Policy) into a single plan that locks up the most dangerous sex offenders indefinitely.

· Life without release for heinous sex crimes.

· Indeterminate life sentences for forcible rape and repeat sex offenders.

· Enhanced sentencing guidelines that increase the presumptive prison terms for all categories of sex offenses.

· Adding new resources and expertise to civilly commit sex offenders who remain dangerous.

· Mandating that local law enforcement or corrections agents inform health care facilities and their residents if a registered offender or offender on supervision is receiving in-patient care.

· Establishing felony penalties for registered sex offenders who do not disclose their status as a registered sex offender when receiving in-patient health care.

· Developing new computerized criminal data capabilities to be able, in real time, to verify the sex offender registration status of new admissions to health care facilities.

· Strengthening background check standards for persons licensed to work with vulnerable adults and children.

· Enhancing our abilities to track and monitor sex offenders no longer in prison.

· Establishing a Sex Offender Policy Board to ensure Minnesota's development of statewide sex offender supervision and treatment standards and implementation of the best sex offender management practices.

New Proposed Spending in Governor's Budget

· Eighteen new Intensive Supervised Release Agents, and additional Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents, to closely monitor sex offenders who are in the community.

· Adding hearing officers to swiftly punish, and hold accountable, offenders who violate conditions of their supervised release.

· New technology to better track offenders using Global Positioning Satellite technology.

· More than $27 million to keep dangerous sex offenders civilly committed in secure facilities.

· Additional secure beds for sex offenders at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center and a forensic nursing facility to treat aging sex offenders in a secure setting.

· More than $5.5 million for enhanced sex offender treatment programs for offenders in prison or being supervised in the community

· Providing grants to counties for pre-sentence assessments of sex offenders.

· Development of housing options for sex offenders to allow for maximum surveillance and supervision.

· More than $25 million for the Courts, Public Defender and Department of Corrections to cover increased court and sentencing costs.

"These proposals will provide for indefinite sentences for the most dangerous sex offenders, keep other sex offenders locked-up longer, and greatly enhance our ability to closely monitor sex offenders who have served their time," concluded Pawlenty. "These strong actions will help make all of Minnesota safer."

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