The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 23, 2013

Offender release flub shocking

Why it matters: Public safety is jeopardized when state fails to manage sex offender facility

The Mankato Free Press

---- — The release of a dangerous sex offender onto a street corner in Minneapolis a few weeks ago should give all Minnesotans reason to question the operations charged with securing and treating some of the state’s most dangerous predators.

Raymond Traylor was legally released from the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter because state officials charged with managing his case forgot or neglected to fill out paperwork. Then two security guards dropped him off about a quarter mile from the homeless shelter he was supposed to be staying at, according to an Aug. 6 report by the Star Tribune.

He eventually ended up at a Salvation Army shelter for men and women, a place not exactly equipped to handle people like Traylor who had severe mental health problems and a extremely violent past.

This story along with many others show a pattern of basic failures of management at the St. Peter Security Hospital and sex offender treatment program. The management failures have risen to a level dire conceren. The burgeoning run of incompetence falls to the facility, the Department of Human Service and the Dayton administration.

To their credit, Dayton administration officials admit their failings and “cracks” in the system. But there have been enough instances of failure that this should rise to the level of continual, daily, executive oversight. Dayton should get a report every day on the status of operations at St. Peter and Moose Lake if he doesn’t already.

Traylor was released because medical officials had missed the deadline for filing a 60-day progress report to a Hennepin County judge. There obviously was not enough oversight in this case. Some senior official should be checking if the correct reports are getting filed, especially reports that determine a patient’s release or continued treatment.

Deputy Commissioner of Human Services Anne Barry conceded the state made mistakes in missing the report deadline. But she claimed that Traylor wasn’t dangerous as long as he was on his medicine and being treated. That’s little comfort to those who are familiar with Traylor’s record.

The record shows Traylor with a violent history and numerous incidents of attacking staff at places he was being treated. A registered sex offender, he was convicted in 2002 as a juvenile for assaulting his siblings, according to the Star Tribune report. Medical reports said he had “extreme” aggression and doctors were given permission to treat him with “as many medications as possible.” Ultimately, a judge approved use of electroshock therapy.

The Dayton administration needs to understand problems at the state facilities for sex offenders and dangerous criminals are not the same as bureaucratic snafus, for example, at the Department of Transportation.

The St. Peter facility has a particularly troublesome past. The administrator hired by the Dayton team in 2011 turned out to be a disaster. David Proffitt’s publicly-troubled work history was never investigated. The state didn’t bother to check his references that would have shown he had disastrous bouts of management incompetence in other places. His forced exit left a management situation where numerous psychiatrists left, forcing the state to fly in others at great taxpayer expense. The facility is now on its third administrator since 2010.

Its time to ratchet up the management of these facilities and ramp up the accountability. Heads should be rolling.

The management of such facilities is a major undertaking, and the Dayton administration needs to take further serious action that ensures public safety and gives the public confidence that the so called cracks in the system will not turning into gaping holes.