The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

November 20, 2013

Inaction on sex offenders risks public safety

Why it matters: Without Legislative action, it is possible 700 sex offenders could be released in Minnesota

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The Legislature and the governor need to take seriously these recommendations and move on them with urgency. Gov. Mark Dayton’s recent decision to halt all sex offender hearings for release only increases the pressure for the Legislature to do something.

The threat of release of sex offenders in a completely unsupervised way seems very real.

The bipartisan bill passed the Senate with Republican support, including Senate Minority Leader Dave Hann. The House bill was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Abeler, of Anoka, but no other Republicans supported it. Democrats in the House indicated they would not move forward alone on the bill for concern that the GOP would use such votes as campaign literature.

The latest warning by Magnuson should convince those GOP legislators who oppose changes that something needs to get done and get done quickly. While Dayton’s recent move to halt offender approvals was driven by the politics of the situation, we hope he realizes at some point he may need to lead on this issue regardless of the political consequences.

Republicans in the House were quoted in stories last May that there may be no need to v this issue and there is no urgency.

GOP leaders and others should listen to their brethren GOP-appointed Magnuson. He told legislators Monday that the constitutional challenge to the law if very real and a judge finding against Minnesota would act “with a broad sword not a scalpel.” He told legislators if the federal courts find for the offenders, the Legislature likely would have no control over the method of treating sex offenders nor the cost.

Reading between the lines, that means release of all sex offenders, again, unsupervised, unmonitored.

So legislators who want to play out the politics should consider one thing: How good will their election chances be when they were responsible for allowing all sex offenders to be released.

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