Constitutionality of Minnesota Sex Offender Program will be determined by judge, not jury

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — A federal judge has denied the state's request for a jury trial in a challenge to Minnesota's sex offender treatment program.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled Tuesday that he'll decide the first phase of the case, which will determine whether the state's law on civil commitments of sex offenders is constitutional. The bench trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9.

The judge says claims for monetary damages by individuals committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program would be settled by a jury later.

The class-action lawsuit on behalf of nearly 700 residents of the program allege it's unconstitutional because it keeps them locked up indefinitely after they finish their prison sentences without providing adequate treatment. Only one resident has been successfully released, with provisions, since 1994.

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