The MSOP...

The MSOP...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Meeting 1/3/2013: More Progress...and Real Hope

The 5th Meeting of the historic Sex Offender Civil Commitment Task Force created by Minnesota DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (upon Order by the Federal Magistrate in the Class-Action Lawsuit (Karsjens case) involving the civilly committed "clients" of the MSOP) moved the Task Force forward in it's charges, and some discussion foreshadowed the serious issues that will need to be dealt with head-on as we go forward.

The day started for me with my daily morning coffee routine, and let me tell ya, a good cup of Joe in the morning after a decade of either no coffee in MN Prison Segregation Units (or coffee that you heat up in your "Hot Pot" if you're lucky enough to be able to afford one or are fortunate and fast in getting to the microwave before the other 20 men all running for it on the Flag) tastes mighty fine!

I then proceeded to McDonalds in Wayzata on my way in and as I saw the engaging figure of Ronald McDonald while ordering my #1 Meal, the Egg McMuffin stating that there had been X # of billions "Served" at "McDonalds" that I had a Godshot--one of those moments of inspiration, and realized the parallels between the MSOP and their phony McTreatment, and always wondering how many are currently being "Served" with the very special versions of "Care" and "Treatment" that are absolutely unique to the MSOP--an institution where the threat of assault was from the staff/officials.

I picked up my Dad, Virgil Evenstad at the Hopkins/St. Louis Park White Castle and off we went. We get down to the Capital, where I had hoped to park and there is a sign saying "In Session" and No Public Parking. I'm thinking that this is retarded as there were 50 open meters covered so you can't use them. I don't understand the reasoning, but also understand that security may be the valid reason.

Upon entering Room 5 in the State Office Building just before the 9 am start time, I was shaken by the absence of Hennepin County Prosecutor John Kirwin, who like myself hasn't missed a meeting. I said a quick but hopefully effective prayer in my head for Mr. Kirwin as I was very worried about him when he wasn't there when the meeting began. Being a man of faith, I knew John would be okay and so I locked in in terms of assessing the room for who was there, getting my iPhone turned off, etc. I noted that I did not see any media cameramen, and that from the MSOP, I only recognized  Nancy Johnston.

Chair Eric Magnuson began the meeting and the poor guy looked as if Scrooge had put a Bad Cold in his stocking for Christmas as he was clearly under the weather yet courageously forging on. I hope and trust Santa trumped Scrooge for the Chair this Christmas and also will pray for his fast recovery.

The Chair raised the issue of the availability of the audio recordings of these historic meetings. Task Force Liaison Don Jarovski (who has been exceptional in his duties by consensus) addressed the issue authoritatively and indicated to the room that the audio from each meeting run 3 CD's each and they are currently available to listen to on the 6th Floor in a room known as the LRL if I understood. Don went on to further explain upon a question from Vice-Chair James Rosenbaum why the audio is not uploaded and available on the DHS website that in order to post the audios online, DHS would have to have all of the meetings transcribed, and that this was viewed as prohibitive by the DHS.

My view is that since DHS has a 70 Million Dollar price tag this year for their "Program", that they need to go on ahead and make this massive commitment to staffing and resources to transcribe the audios...or I will do it for them pro bono as I had a lot of experience transcribing while working as a Paralegal for Attorney Jill Clark for over 3 years!

DHS: Please make the investment for transparency. The general public has a right to full and open access to these meetings and most people work in this economy and would like to listen to these meetings as time allows from the comfort of their homes. The resolution as I understand it was that the options for the public are either drive to the State Office Building to listen to any of the meeting audios or purchase them for a cost yet to be determined. I reiterate that my third option is reasonable.

Chair Magnuson pleasantly surprised me with his next remarks which were along the lines of we (The Task Force) are going to add to the website submission materials that have been received, however we will exercise our discretion in terms of what will ultimately be added and submissions rejected will be told why. I view that as great news because I frankly am very wary about the Chair's desire to wrap up the Task Force charge in a year, rather than two years.

To his credit, he has mentioned twice as many meetings in one year vs two, so I'm not remotely alleging he doesn't have the stomach for this or the stamina if needed. I am very concerned simply, that at least as of yet, he does not fully understand how dysfunctional this "Program" is, nor how long and how serious the illegal & unconstitutional MSOP has been/is. I have every confidence with the Chair's approach, clear vision, and hefty intellect he brings to the party that these realities will not be lost on him as his awareness and knowledge increase as the "literature" resources and the experiences and information from the other 19 states is digested. I'm hoping the same can be said for me and all of the Task Force members as well. A great opportunity!

Chair Magnuson initiated a discussion about the media coverage of the first Task Force report, and after discussion was had, the Chair requested that any erroneous news media coverage should be brought to his attention. DHS also rightly contacted the media and clarified a point in their coverage they were mistaken about. My understanding is that a TV station reported that the secure facilities would be replaced, rather than augmented. The Chair thanked Dean Janus for assisting a Star Tribune writer with her editorial. The Chair also showed respect to the other members by sharing that he had had media requests, as well as a request to be the keynote speaker at a CLE in Rochester but deferred in deference to the group as he knew the he couldn't speak for all of the members of the Task Force.

Senator Tony Lourey made an impassioned plea for funding outreach and education and Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester echoed his remarks as well as contributed to the discussion about the media and how the public perceives the coverage. Rep. Liebling has consistently been advocating for education as she correctly understands that if the State's leaders lead (for example they do decide to shut down MSOP this Session and move a different direction) that if the empirical evidence supports such a move and the State's leaders unite for Public Safety and educate and inform the public about what are we doing and why, then it will be an easier sell with the legislators and we can get some forward progress in the Legislature. The example of closing MSOP is only made as an example here.

Then, I was fairly shocked to learn that there is yet another Task Force, charged with evaluating MSOP. I had not heard about this other Task Force (for lack of a better term) prior to right then. Since then I have received by gracious email from Dave Goodwin (one of the attorneys representing the MSOP Clients in the Karsjens lawsuit--the vehicle that propelled this Task Force) the official documents relating to this charge from United States Chief Magistrate Arthur J. Boylan. See links:

Roberta Opheim from the State Ombudsman's Office for Mental Health made cogent remarks regarding the extremely punitive conditions of confinement within the MSOP, which is a far more violent atmosphere than the Minnesota regular prisons, and from where the main threats exist from staff as opposed to patient/client--whatever DHS is calling the HosPrisoners this year.

Roberta has long been concerned I'm sure about the abuses that she well knows occur daily in the MSOP. After all, I called Roberta numerous times during my forced stay in the MSOP, and even sent her documents proving MSOP was violating the very charges from U.S. Chief Magistrate Arthur J. Boylan. Roberta probably has a big heart, but she flat out told me in 2006 that her office was powerless to help me or any other MSOP HosPrisoners in any meaningful way because although all MSOP patients in 2006 were legally classified as Categorically Vulnerable Adults, her hands were tied due to politics. The HosPrisoners were absolutely within her purview to protect these people even if it meant initiating a lawsuit vs the DHS. I still don't understand why she wouldn't help me.

Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin correctly (much as it pained me) stated that the conditions of confinement within the MSOP, whether this place is a Hospital, a Prison 4 Sex Offenders (as the BCA called/calls MSOP) or a HosPrison and the abuses there are not part of the charge of the Task Force. Judge Gearin noted with understandable dismay the number of lawsuits from MSOP detainees that are venued jurisdictionally in Ramsey County due to DHS being headquartered in St. Paul or for other reason(s).

Frankly, I don't know why the C-of-C are not being Ordered evaluated by neutral fact finders, but I have every confidence that Magistrate Boylan knows exactly what he's doing. I called and raised this issue with the Karsjens legal team a few months ago, and they indicated the Court is briefed relating to the conditions of confinement. If Magistrate Boylan wanted the issue before us it would be.

The Amended Complaint was provided for my review at that time and the professional cooperation from Dan Gustafson, Karla Gluek & Dave Goodwin has been outstanding as has been the superlative work of the firm's support staff. Thanks!

The Vice-Chair made some extremely important and epic comments at this point. He referenced his involvement in a case I know well as Holly v Koneiska. A federal jury awarded Mr. Elliot Holly $408,000.00 in compensation/damages for his "Care and treatment" at the hands of the MSOP.

See link to the Amended Complaint below:

Vice-Chair Rosenbaum did not identify the parties in his public remarks, which was of course decorum and respectful of the privacy of Mr. Holly. I met Mr. Holly while in the Segregation Unit in MCF-RC in 2004 or so and he valiently attempted to assuage the dire and extreme fears I had at that time that the DOC and the HCAO were combining their forces of corruption and evil, and were in fact trying to lock me into the MSOP--a maximum security psychiatric hospital for sex offenders although I was of perfectly sound mind and was in fact innocent.

I'll never forget how astute Mr. Holly's observations were about me and the conclusions he drew about me in a relatively short period of time. He told me that I would never be in the MSOP unless I was visiting a patient like him because I was different than any sex offender he had ever been around and he clearly stated that the other guys in MSOP have at least something wrong with their minds but that he could see that I was more like the DOC psychologists trying to help him than other inmates.

That was something I heard routinely for the ten years that the state detained me after Richfield Police Officer Beth Roberts abducted me on March 6, 1998 from my residence the day after my March 5, 1998 KSTP-TV news story about me trying to protect embryos and infants from the ravages of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Looking to protect and not harm from the womb to death children and women. Yes, the State has wrongfully convicted me and I am now very close to proving it with help.

The veteran Federal Judge was moved as he stated that there is a moral issue within the MSOP that must be addressed as well as all of the constitutional and legal issues that need to be addressed. The moral dilemma the wise, seasoned Judge was talking about (and he can feel free to correct me if I am wrong here) is the culture of abuse and neglect that is endemic and systemic within the MSOP. This dehumanization of these men who have served out their sentences and thus have earned the right--are ENTITLED (as I was called an "Entitled Personality Style" as my mental illness by the State) to release and deference to the fact that his debt is paid in full whether society likes it or not. After all, it is society's system. The sex offenders didn't decided the penalties. Society should obey their rules. The Vice Chair correctly stated that the issue of the conditions of confinement is the Court's issue.

There was discussion relating to the need to have very clear definitions and clear terms to define effective treatment, etc. Dean Janus stated clearly defined standards would resolve 50% of problems.

Fred Friedman, a veteran Public Defender from the 6th District covering Moose Lake stated plainly that while he's all for Public Safety, he's not down with the fact that there are many men in Moose Lake at the MSOP who don't belong there. Fred Friedman knows what's been going on at MSOP.

There was encouraging talk regarding "if" there is even to be sex-related civil commitments in Minnesota, then the current system is going to have to be completely revised to attempt to comport with the Constitution. I'm strongly trying to get my view across that this is an impossible, but noble task, as the valid constitutional and legal attacks won't end until this Pre-Crime System is eliminated.

Chair Magnuson made very important comments indicating he surely understands a great deal already as he stated that the system we are moving to will be a very temporal civil commitment, from between 2-3 years, and that the committees will need to be discharged immediately once the showing is made that the treatment has effected recovery sufficient as to allow for release. The Chair also stated that there is a consensus in the mental health/treatment community that some of the most entrenched sex offenders are not amenable to treatment, and that civil detention in Minnesota for men not amenable to treatment is over. They will be released and if they reoffend the criminal "justice" system will be right there waiting on them, with a "normal" life sentence to greet any reoffenders.

I believe that Dr. Michael Thompson, the treatment expert on the panel, is absolutely wrong in his assessment that the lack of releases from the MSOP is NOT due to a lack of adequate treatment. His view is that it is the politics exclusively, and that the MSOP is apparently providing adequate treatment. Again, I have the personal life experiences and personal knowledge to know for an absolute fact that he is very sadly mistaken in that belief, but I am one who can agree to disagree. I do wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Thompson that politics has been a serious detriment to any treatment or releases and that is largely why I'm continuing to call on Governor Dayton to lead on this issue and repeal T-Paw's Executive Order. I believe that Dr. Thompson and others have been fooled by a very slick MSOP/DHS Administration that has played these same games with great success now for 20 some years. Proof is in the pudding. I have documents from MSOP/DHS from 2003 promising their detainees that everything is going to be corrected for them going forward. Been there, done that!

Discussion was then garnered around the concepts of Centralized Referral Process, Centralized Court to hear commitment hearings, and a single court of retired judges and/or ALJ judges who are insulated from political pressure, as no one can threaten their jobs like T-Paw did so hollowly to Donnay, Close, and whoever: Guelker, Britzius, Leverentz, Earhart and the other DOC RA/CN Unit members that failed to heed my GPS letter or protect Dru Sjodin from Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr. but instead went after me for reasons other than any legitimate concerns anyone ever had about me "re"-offending. I reiterate my Public Comments here in stating you must have outstate experts involved in this process. The primary or secondary (supervisory) risk evaluators must be neutral and not have any relationships with prolific SDP/SPP prosecutors like Mr. Kirwin, Mr. Ostrem, and AG lawyers. Dr. Kaplan was insistent that you must not have any "stakeholders" involved in decisions relating to HosPrisoners.

The standards and burdens of proof were discussed briefly and some talk of uniformity was had. The burden at the Hold Hearing should be changed from a Preponderance to Proof Beyond a reasonable Doubt. No man should be civilly detained if you don't have that proof level initially, and then the same burden throughout the process, with the Jury Trial right restored as C. Peter Erlinder has been demanding for 20 years.

It was suggested that Judges who have the authority to sentence men to the MSOP should be required to go inside the MSOP on regular visits to see where they are sentencing to and what the environment is like in these HosPrisons. I would add that they should be required to spend at least one night in the MSOP as a mock HosPrisoner because it is easy to look good for 20 minutes but harder for 20 hours.

The most intriguing aspect of these meetings unfolded next when Dean Janus suggested going around the table and having each person say what they want out of this process at the end of the day. It was interesting to hear the various philosophies and perspectives regarding the MSOP. Some, like Dr. Thompson believe that MSOP is providing constitutionally adequate treatment, while others, such as Roberta Opheim and Fred Friedman have enough experience with the MSOP to know that is not true. The Vice Chair pointed to New York's state as a good model regarding their approach to civil management and their 7% sexual recidivism rate. I sent the Task Force some resources earlier today I received from a colleague of mine who practices in New York.

Senator Lourey made great sense in recognizing that the MSOP is a massive waste of scarce resources. 70M per year for a failed program whose track record is lawsuits, no releases, no hope. I believe Senator Tony Lourey is a visionary when it comes to the MSOP as I think he has correctly concluded that the MSOP, in any iteration is a mistake, and that the State needs to move full circle away from sex civil commitment, and utilize the 70M for radical concepts like Education, Early Intervention/Prevention, Victim Services--open up precious mental health beds for mental patients. A focus on 600-700 is not best practices with limited resources as Senator Lourey strongly stated.

Representative Tina Liebling also said that she wants the state to figure out how to do better with less. She clearly understands how important it is to provide the public education about these issues.

Representative Jim Abeler from Anoka showed insight into the HosPrisoners by stating that the HosPrisoners have rights, and that they are not criminals as they have served their time. If only Jim Abeler and James Rosenbaum's humanity were contagious. No one would need the MSOP if it was I believe it was Rep. Abeler who referred to the MSOP as a "Terminal System"--Genius!

Ramsey County Judge Joanne Smith (who, along with Judge Gearin sit on the SCAP Panels) expressed concern that the MSOP detainees are being warehoused, and wants to see some serious changes on the front end--the intake valve of the MSOP. I have specific ideas to address this issue. She stated that some of the sex offenders are not treatable no matter what treatment is offered. I agree. Judge Smith expressed concerns relating to the supervision of the committed men who will be getting released, and stated that GPS monitoring is not a panacea, as there can be drop offs in coverage.

Civil commitment defense attorney Ryan Magnus from Mankato suggested that the discharge process needs to move away from the MSOP treatment status and recommendations, etc. and move into the concept that current risk, and more importantly whether the HosPrisoner currently meets the commitment criteria should trump whether the man has elected to even engage in this Program, let alone be dependent upon "completion" of this virtually uncompletable Program. 

Alpha Human Services Gerald Kaplan believes we are stuck with the MSOP "for a long time". Dr. Kaplan also said that the MSOP only had about 50 men in there prior to 1988-89, when the DOC Risk Assessment/Community Notification Unit twice released violent, dangerous, mentally ill sex offenders (rather than referring either of them for commitment) who violently sexually assaulted and murdered women in downtown Minneapolis in the parking ramps of buildings including Honeywell.

DOC Commissioner Tom Roy stated that the recidivism rate of convicted sex offenders in Minnesota is very low and that educating the public about what the empirical evidence that the experts under him at DOC have found. The research by Grant Duwe and the work of Steve Huot is important here. Commissioner Roy emphasized his believe that effective treatment can help many sex offenders to go on and live out their lives without ever reoffending again. He shared his experience with the human ability to change and improve--the rehabilitation of prior killers that he has personally witnessed. I found the Commissioner's comments to be reflective of a man who understands that many of these men can be rehabilitated if only they get some effective treatment, and not the immoral McTreatment.

Ms. Kelly Mitchell from the Sentencing Guidelines Commission emphasized the critical importance of getting the most qualified risk assessors to be doing the risk assessments for these HosPrisoners. Sentencing Guidelines have gone from 4 years under the rape statute where there is NO evidence of any kind required beyond the testimony of the "victim". I put the word victim in quotation marks because my point is that the statutory language has the accuser as the "victim" which eliminates the Presumption of Innocence.



Judge Nelson indicated that he committed 8 men out of 8 men he sat in judgement of. He stated his belief that there are "only 600" men in the MSOP, and considering the number of total sex offenders in Minnesota that he doesn't seem too concerned that Minnesota leads all 20 SVP states, even with 4-5x our population in commitments, like Californai and New York. I think it will be interesting to review each of these HosPrisoner cases he presided over and decided to commit for life to the MSOP.

Next was the Public Comments, but not before my utter relief in seeing Mr. Kirwin had perservered and was able to get to the meeting, if just a bit late. A few HosPrisoner family members spoke, with one pointing out the absolute imbalance on the Task Force with not one member being an advocate for the nearly 700 men there now. This is exactly the issue I raised with DHS in October.

I had offered Commissioner Jesson my services way back in October, but she ignored that offer, as she also did the requests from even Grandparents of these HosPrisoners to have any voice in this process which is largely about them. It is appalling that the Commissioner would not appoint me to sit at the cool kids' table, and to allow an articulate voice to be involved who lived in the MSOP just about exactly one year longer than the combined 22-member non-Ex_HosPrisoner Task Force members. I think she still needs to make this appointment now for a voice for her clients. I had to point out in my Public Comments again that at every meeting appointed members have more important things to do than try to keep the next Dru Sjodin tragedy from happening. Every single meeting there have been multiple Official and Ex-Officio Task Force Members who are no-shows.

I again request that Commissioner Jesson either appoint me or allow me to fill an empty chair that is available every meeting. It doesn't make sense to ignore the value I bring to this Task Force.

Then, it was Thomas Koepke up to bat again! For the 3rd or 4th time we heard from lovable Mr. Koepke all about the magical, miraculous transformational power of the MSOP. He has made Public Comment time and time again testifying about the sex offender who he mentors, and about the "wonderful" MSOP that he emphasizes so endearingly is the greatest thing since Mom, God & Apple Pie.

It makes me wonder just how much the DHS paid this guy (joking), as they couldn't pay this guy enough for the drivel he spiels about the MSOP! I believe today's youth would characterize my reaction X 3/4 now as LMFAO! I called and spoke to Mr. Koepke personally after his first such ringing public endorsement, and I was quickly able to ascertain where the disconnect is in terms of why he believes in something so adamantly that is obviously not real, like Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny.

HosPrisoner Ryan Johnson's mom stated in her public testimony that her son had the TV channels removed by the MSOP that covered the Legislature, and the MSOP hearings. MSOP removed C-Span so that their prisoners would not be able to watch the coverage about the MSOP.

The MSOP won't even provide their "Clients" with the email service the DOC inmates have!

I inquired about this with the MSOP/DHS brass and nothing but the usual run around and games.

Following the meeting I had some opportunity to talk with some of the Task Force members, and I also finally met Margretta Dwyer! Margretta graciously took my calls from prison as did Peter Erlinder and Bradford Colbert of the old L.A.M.P. program for MN DOC prisoners for a decade.

I met Ombudsman for MSOP-ML Mike Woods, and I met reporter Paul Demko as well! Great day!

I asked Commissioner Roy about my idea relating to converting MCF-Lino Lakes into a Centralized MSOP location, and he indicated he bounced it around the brass, and the thinking at present is the DOC wants to see what becomes of these meetings, and is reticent to make such a massive change presently. I expressed some of my concerns relating to the RA/CN Unit, and especially William Donnay, who has been in power in the DOC since probably the 1970's and has signed off on the releases of numerous men who were not referred by his Unit for civil commitment, and went on to commit the Unholy Grail of sex crimes--Sexually motivated homicides/murders.

It is inconceivable to me that Bill Donnay simply erred again and again in signing off on the releases on several dangerous, violent, mentally ill, recidivistic sex offenders who all then graduated to sexual murders. How can Donnay be referring hundreds for commitment during the time he's releasing a half dozen of the obviously most dangerous and deadly. I'm publicly calling for an investigation into this Unit of Donnay's and of William Donnay himself. WHY would he keep making these "mistakes", and why was he never held accountable or sued by any families of murder victims. Is the Statute-of -Limitations only 6 years for criminal negligence? How many more mistakes by Donnay does the public have to accept, and family members of preventable murder victims have to accept and how many more murderers is William Donnay going to free before he retires? Just how many more?

Commissioner Roy stated to me his belief that his Risk Assessors, the same people responsible for releasing Alfonso Rodriquez, Donald Blom & Co. and then refers me and many hundreds of low and moderate risk sex offenders for civil commitment are world class, and are the best in the business. I respect Commissioner Tom Roy immensely (both personally and professionally) but I do not believe that his assessment is accurate.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections is blessed and lucky to have Tom Roy at the helm, as are the prisoners under his responsibility. I had to learn fast in prison how to correctly size someone up in sometimes seconds, and other times longer periods of time in order to literally survive in prison as a falsely labeled "sex offender". In talking with Commissioner Roy, I was struck by his courtesy, respect, and wise words shared with me. He told me he respected my right to voice my opinions, whether they are popular or not, and that due to my experiences it would be natural to become obsessed with all of this MSOP stuff, etc., but that establishing balance in one's life is important. This kind of compassion, empathy and sympathy for someone badly abused by the "system" is very rare. Thank you, Mr. Roy.

I will say that if Commissioner Tom Roy is right and I'm the one who's wrong (it has been known to happen!) that if the best people we have are making the predictions we can show they have made, then there should be no clearer evidence necessary that our current system of risk prediction is too fraught with error, and that it is impossible to predict with ENOUGH accuracy or certainty to even make these commitments constitutional! Please recommend the Injunction/Moratorium like Illinois Governor George Ryan did when evidence surfaced that the Capital System in IL was broken.

The Task Force is obligated to seek this Injunction/Moratorium I'm calling for in the name of justice while we continue to work to sort it all out. No more HosPrisoners should suffer a Geographical or Political Commitment until we have a handle on this Constitutional Crisis!

Upon leaving I saw a gray, Patagonia brand wool cap and decided the best course of action was to secure the apparel item and attempt to determine the owner. I thought it might belong to Nancy Johnston or the lady who was with Nancy so I called the MSOP and informed Cindy of the hat crisis...tongue in cheek! She indicated she would check with Ms. Johnston and get back to me. Later, I decided to drop a courtesy email to Don at the Task Force email so that he and others were aware of the situation.

Tonight, while reviewing a single string of photos I took at the meeting, revealed the owner(s) of the hat are likely the man who was with I assume his wife, and who were seated lower than Ms. J was. I know what the couple look like, and they even read this blog and let me know. My email is:

I will keep your hat in pristine condition until it is reunited with its rightful owner. Lol :)

The next scheduled Task Force meetings will be In The Evening (A Led Zeppelin song) from 6pm-9pm on January 22, and February 12 in Room 5, State Office Building (Next to Capital) St. Paul.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting information about these meetings. I found your blog about 3 months ago and it has helped me find out a lot of information which has allowed me to update my brother in MSOP about what is going on.