Senate Counsel, Research
and Fiscal Analysis
Minnesota Senate Bldg.
95 University Avenue W. Suite 3300
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 296-4791
Tom Bottern
State of Minnesota
S.F. No. 415 - Sex Offender Civil Commitment and Sentencing
Author: Senator Kathy Sheran
Prepared By: Joan White, Senate Counsel (651/296-3814)
Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
Date: July 15, 2015



  • Requires Commissioner of Human Services to ensure a regimen of treatment that provides strict and intensive supervision and treatment (SIST) for persons civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person or person with a sexual psychopathic personality.  The SIST must meet public safety requirements specified by the Commissioners of Human Services, Public Safety, and Corrections, and ensure the safety of the public while meeting the treatment needs of the civilly committed population.
  • Requires counties to determine the demand for a range of housing options for persons committed as a sexually dangerous person or a person with a sexual psychopathic personality, based on county’s commitments in the previous ten years.  The county must ensure that housing is available and reevaluate housing capacity and demand annually, or more often if necessary, to ensure an adequate range of housing options are available in the county. 


Article 2 makes the following major changes related to the civil commitment of sex offenders.

  • County contribution to cost of care (section 3)
  • Clarifies the liability of the county to pay a portion of the cost of care. Current law requires county to pay for committed patients in one of the MSOP “facilities,” which are located in Moose Lake and St. Peter.  The new language would require the county to contribute to the cost of care for committed patients who are treated outside of the facilities, for example, persons committed to SIST or on provisional discharge.  The county contribution is 25 percent of the cost of care.
  • Statewide screening unit (sections 9 and 10)
  • Establishes statewide, centralized screening unit that will develop and implement a comprehensive assessment process to evaluate sex offenders, determine whether they meet criteria for commitment, and make recommendations regarding initial and ongoing placement and treatment. 
  • Bifurcated hearing process (sections 11 and 12)
  • Amends commitment law to create bifurcated hearing process. First phase will determine whether person is a sexually dangerous person or sexual psychopathic personality. If so, second phase will determine appropriate placement (secure treatment facility or strict and intensive supervision and treatment). Require a specific plan and established standards and conditions for SIST. 
  • Panel of district judges with statewide jurisdiction (section 15)
  • Requires Supreme Court to establish a panel of district court judges with statewide jurisdiction to preside over sex offender civil commitment proceedings. This is authorized under current law but has not been implemented. 
  • Sex offender civil commitment defense office (section 19)
  • Establishes a statewide office to approve and administer a panel of qualified defense counsel for sex offender civil commitment proceedings. 
  • Biennial review of civilly committed sex offenders (section 21)
  • Requires biennial review of sex offender commitments, including recommendations regarding continued commitment, placement, and treatment. Under current law, the committed person or head of the treatment facility may bring a petition for a reduction in custody but there is not a regular, automatic review process. 


Article 3 makes the following major changes to criminal sexual conduct sentencing provisions.

  • Lifetime Community Supervision for Sex Offenders   (sections 7, 8, and 11)Under current law, a sex offender must serve a minimum of ten years on conditional release after leaving prison.  Repeat offenders get lifetime conditional release. There are no comparable probationary minimums.  This proposal would require lifetime supervision (either conditional release or probation) for all felony-level sex offenders (1st through 5th degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and criminal sexual predatory conduct (CSPC)) (including first timers).  Of note, the lifetime probation could be accomplished using low levels of supervision when appropriate.  Authorizes offenders to petition the court to be released from lifetime probation after a minimum of ten years.
  • Two New Mandatory Indeterminate Sentences
  • Mandatory Indeterminate Statutory Maximum Sentence (with Release) (sections 3, 4, and 8)
  • Applies to all 1st through 4th degree CSC and CSPC offenders who have one true or nontrue prior sex offense conviction.
  • Mandatory Indeterminate Life Sentence (with Release) (sections 4 and 8)
  • Applies to all 1st through 4th degree CSC and CSPC offenders who have two or more true or nontrue priors. 
  • If applicable, the sentence must be imposed by the court but the court may stay execution. (section 8) Thus, a judge may choose not to send the offender to prison and instead keep the offender in the community (i.e., probation and jail). If the offender violates probation, the offender is subject to revocation potentially resulting in the execution of the described prison sentence.
  • Minimum Sentence (section 8)
  • Offenders sentenced under the new indeterminate sentencing provisions will receive a minimum term of imprisonment, specified by the sentencing court.  This term will be based on the applicable sentencing guidelines presumptive sentence and/or any statutory mandatory minimum sentences. 
  • Release Authority (section 8)
  • Would create a three-member special review panel to make release decisions for offenders sentenced under the new indeterminate sentencing provisions.  This panel would consist of the Commissioner of Corrections and two retired judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 
  • Release Criteria (section 8)
  • Would require the panel when making a release decision to consider specified statutory criteria relating to release (the risk the inmate poses to the community if released; the inmate’s progress in treatment; the inmate’s behavior while incarcerated; psychological or other diagnostic evaluations of the inmate; the inmate’s criminal history;  the ability of the inmate to readjust to open society; the testimony or statements of individuals with an interest in the case made at the release hearing; and any other relevant conduct of the inmate while incarcerated or before incarceration). Prohibits release if the inmate has not successfully completed sex offender treatment while in prison. Creates a presumption in favor of release for those that have.
  • Future Applicability of the Civil Commitment Law (section 8)
  • Provides that an offender sentenced to one of the two new indeterminate sentences would not be eligible for future civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person/sexual psychopathic personality. 
  • Percentage of Time a Sex Offender Must Serve in Prison Before Being   Eligible for Release (sections 1, 2, 6, and 8)
  • Under current law, sex offenders (and all other offenders) serving determinate sentences must serve a minimum of two-thirds of their sentence in prison.  The offender must be released after serving this minimum, assuming the offender has not misbehaved in prison.  This proposal would change this requirement for sex offenders (1st through 4th degree CSC, felony-level 5th degree CSC, and CSPC) so that they may be required to spend longer than two-thirds of their sentence in prison (up to 100 percent) if the special review panel (see above) determines that the offender is not ready for release/there are safety issues with release (release criteria would be the same as specified above for the new indeterminate sentences).   This provision applies to sex offenders not receiving an indeterminate sentence.
  • Requires Each County to Provide a Minimum Level of Housing Options for Sex Offenders in the Community Based on the Average Number of Sex Offenders Sent to Prison from the County over the last Ten Years (Section 5)
  • Requires the Department of Corrections to maintain at least the fiscal year 2015 level of Sex Offender Treatment and to Attempt to Increase Treatment Levels (Section 9)
  • Appropriates an Unspecified Sum for Increased Prison-based Sex Offender Treatment (Section 10)


Check on the status of this bill
Back to Senate Counsel and Research Bill Summaries page

This page is maintained by the Office of Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis for the Minnesota Senate.
Last review or update: 07/15/2015
If you see any errors on this page, please e-mail us at