St. Paul, Minn. (February 9, 2010) – State Senator Mee Moua (DFL-67) said Tuesday that she supports Governor Tim Pawlenty in his proposal that would more than double prison time for sex offenders, and usher in a new comprehensive Internet education program to help protect children from online predators.
Under the Governor’s proposal, an offender convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct would receive a 25-year sentence, more than doubling the current presumptive sentence.
Minnesota courts typically impose a presumptive sentence of 12 years. Under current law offenders convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct without a “heinous elements” conviction face a maximum sentence of 30 years. The Governor’s proposal will more than double the 12-year presumptive sentence to 25 years.
“I welcome Governor Pawlenty’s proposal released today that would increase prison sentences for sex offenders,” stated Moua. “This proposal is in line with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s work over the past couple years to be smart on crime and reform Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines to ensure that we are locking up the right offenders for the right reasons.
“I look forward to working with the
on this proposal,” she added. “We must recognize, however, that lengthening prison sentences will have long-term budget cost implications for the future that should be examined before this proposal moves forward.”
Pawlenty is also calling on the legislature to include the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility in Moose Lake in the 2010 capital investment bill to accommodate rapid growth in the number of civilly committed sex offenders.
The Governor has proposed $89 million for completion of Phase II of the MSOP facility which includes construction of an additional 400-bed secure residential facility, including space for required treatment and life-safety infrastructure. If Minnesota courts continue to civilly commit sex offenders at current rates, current facilities will be full by the end of 2012.
MSOP is a secure treatment program for civilly committed sex offenders. The program currently houses 552 dangerous sex offenders who have served their prison sentences but have been deemed by the courts to be too dangerous to be released. These sex offenders can only be released by the courts once they have demonstrated they have reduced their risk to offend and can be managed through intensive supervision in the community.
The proposal also adds NetSmartz, a program developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to provide detailed information for students, teachers, parents and law enforcement about the dangers that children can face when they go online.
Schools will be provided with training and instruction materials that teachers can use to help educate students about the dangers that exist online. Materials are designed for different age groups, with presentations for children in grades K-2, grades 3-6, tweens and teens.
“I also applaud the Governor for the NetSmartz program also released today,” Moua said. “I have been a long supporter of programs to protect our children from predators on the Internet.
“In 2007, I authored the bill that made it a crime to solicit children over the internet, and last session, I authored the expansion of that law as well as the bill that prohibits predatory offenders from using social networking internet sites,” she added.