The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 17, 2012

State hires new head of sex offender program


The Free Press

— A new executive director for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program has been named, according to an announcement from Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry.

Nancy Johnston has been appointed to take the position that oversees facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake. About 650 sex offenders are locked up as part of the program.

In the news release about Johnston’s appointment, Barry said Johnston joined the MSOP in 2003 and has held a number of leadership positions within the program, most recently as interim executive director for the past several months.

“Nancy has been instrumental in shaping the organization during a time of rapid growth and change,” Barry said in a statement.

Johnston’s career spans more than 30 years in the human services field, Barry said. Prior to joining state service, she held several key clinical and administrative positions within both inpatient and outpatient settings across Minnesota and Wisconsin, serving in community corrections, residential treatment facilities and chemical dependency programming.

The number of civilly committed sex offenders in Minnesota has tripled since 2003 when North Dakota college student Dru Sjodin was kidnapped and killed by a recently released sex offender.

Minnesota’s sex offender program costs more than $67 million a year to run and has been challenged in a class-action lawsuit for locking up offenders for their potential of committing crimes rather than for actually committing them. A federal judge has ordered the formation of a task force to study the program.