A long-awaited federal trail that is expected to determine the constitutionality of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) has been set for Feb. 9.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank set the date at a hearing Thursday attended by attorneys representing the state and a class of sex offenders.

The trial will focus on whether the state’s system of locking away some sex offenders in treatment centers after they have already served their prison sentences is constitutional. A class of sex offenders has sued the state, alleging that MSOP violates their due process rights by failing to provide sex offenders with effective treatment and the opportunity for release.

About 690 sex offenders are being held indefinitely at high-security treatment centers in Moose Lake and St. Peter. Only two people have ever been provisionally discharged from the program in its 19-year history.

A state task force last year concluded that Minnesota’s current system of committing sex offenders “captures too many people and keeps too many of them too long.”

Judge Frank had previously sought to schedule the trial for later this year, but four experts appointed by the court to evaluate MSOP said they needed more time to complete their report.

The experts, which include officials of both the Wisconsin and New York state sex offender programs, have interviewed a range of staff and residents at Moose Lake and St. Peter. They expect to have a comprehensive report completed by mid- to late November of this year.


Twitter: @chrisserres