About 31 percent of those sex offenders referred in December 2003 have been committed, according to the report.
In its early days, the state sparingly used it as a place to house sex offenders.From 1999 to end of 2003, judges committed only 56 people, about 11 per year on average, according to the data.The most dramatic spikes took place in Minnesota’s rural counties, which commit sex offenders at disproportionately high rates relative to their populations, the data show.As a result, the population of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) has exploded to more than 700 offenders since Sjodin’s death. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state to lock up the offenders with virtually no hope of ever getting out.That meant people who didn’t exhibit a habitual or utter lack of control over their sexual impulses could still be civilly committed.
The new category also allowed for commitment even if the offender’s actions inflicted only emotional harm — not physical — to a victim.
She was face down and naked below the waist, hands tied behind her back.
Rope and remnants of a plastic bag encircled her neck. TV crews brought in satellite trucks that beamed daily images of Sjodin, who the media dubbed "everyone's daughter, everyone's sister." Outrage for the tragedy was aimed not just at Rodriguez, but at Minnesota officials, who didn’t commit him to a sex offender treatment program after his prison sentence, despite a pre-release evaluation that found him likely to reoffend.
At the center of the controversy is Sjodin’s story and an ambiguous civil commitment law that experts say leaves too much to the whims — and hearts — of a vast and scattered network of politicians and county officials.
Some of those officials abide by a philosophy that reserves the razor-wired walls of MSOP should be reserved for the state’s worst sex offenders; others take a liberal approach to commitment, believing locking up more people in the facility is a better alternative to risking another Sjodin case.
It wasn’t until 1994 that lawmakers specifically carved out a place in the statute for those suffering from “sexual psychopathic personality.” To this day, that’s defined as people who act habitually and impulsively on sexual behavior, with little control over their actions and almost no remorse, making them a danger to others.