Friday, May 6, 2016

Can't afford treatment? Go back to prison

A registered sex offender in Minnesota is going back to jail after his probation was revoked. Why? According to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jonathan Earl Brown was sent back to prison because he couldn't afford to pay for his court-mandated sex offender treatment program.
In Minnesota, sex offenders are often ordered by local judges to pay for their own treatment as a condition of probation. Yet many walk out of prison too broke to afford the co-payments. Brown was homeless, jobless and so destitute that his probation officer suggested he sell his blood to cover his $42 co-payment, court records show.
Yes, Brown's probation officer suggested he sell his blood - not so he could buy food or pay for a place to live, but to pay for treatment. The court's decision in this case was not unanimous.
In an unusually blistering dissent, Chief Judge Edward Cleary said that preventing indigent sex offenders from obtaining treatment, due to lack of funds, sets them up for failure and undermines public safety. Quoting a Charles Dickens novel, “Martin Chuzzlewit,” the judge wrote: “Dollars! All their cares, hopes, joys, affections, virtues, and associations seemed to be melted down into dollars.” 
The article points out that the Minnesota Department of Corrections does provide grants to help cover the cost of sex offender treatment programs. But the supply of funding does not cover the demand for said funds.


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