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Sex Offender Release Becomes an Issue in Minn. Governor Campaign

Updated: 06/19/2014 7:32 AM
Created: 06/18/2014 7:24 PM KSTP.com
By: Tom Hauser

It’s been nearly two years since a federal judge ordered Minnesota to fix its sex offender program to allow for some offenders to be released. However, not much has changed, and it's an issue in the campaign for Minnesota governor.

Fifty-eight-year old Thomas Duvall is "Exhibit A" in the vexing problem of what to do with the state's worst sex offenders. He's one of about 700 confined at treatment facilities for sex offenders who are in civil commitment after release from prison.

Duvall's been recommended for release despite admitting to at least 60 sexual assaults, including some involving teenage girls.

Attorney General Lori Swanson wants him to remain locked up and now accuses Duvall of destroying journals he's kept in which he describes violent sexual fantasies.

Republican candidate for governor Kurt Zellers blames the Dayton administration for fumbling the issue. He says Democrats control the Governor's Office, House, and Senate and failed to address the issue.

Dayton declined to comment on camera in time for our deadline, but as he walked into a meeting his press secretary handed out a written statement about Zeller's criticism. He accuses Zellers of "hyper-political posturing.”

The governor goes on to say Zellers did nothing to resolve this situation as a member of the House and says he "stood silent" while attempts were made to fix it.

In 2012, a federal judge told the legislature to fix the sex offender program because it's largely become a life sentence after prison release. But no lawmakers want to vote for a bill that looks like they want to release sex offenders.

In his statement, Dayton notes, "Duvall is not a prisoner, he is civilly-committed." He also points out the decision to destroy his own personal property is between him and his lawyer. Dayton says it's legal under current law.


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