June 10, 2008
OK'd for transfer, but going nowhere
Mike Meyer says that in his 13 years locked inside Minnesota Sex Offender Program facilities, he's gained insight into why he molested 36 children and young adults, and how to stop himself from doing it again. "When I was offending I felt like I was a freak -- like I couldn't talk to anybody," said Meyer, 38. Now he recognizes secrecy as "a big red flag."Meyer completed all the required phases of treatment in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program four years ago and has an 18-page Predischarge Plan listing his strategies for not reoffending. But he remains locked up.
One technique psychologists taught him is privately repeating a deviant thought over and over until it loses its allure. Another is telling on himself -- confessing to a counselor or support group when he feels a taboo attraction. Both are supposed to break the cycle of thoughts and behaviors that led to his crimes. Of similar programs in 19 states, only the 14-year-old MSOP and three others that are much newer have released no patients. While most states leave release decisions to the courts, Minnesota is one of only two states that until this year put that authority in the hands of a political appointee, the human services commissioner, and a paid review board he or she appoints. Their decisions could go to a court only on appeal. [Mark Godsey]
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