In the Spotlight

News & Features
Go to Session 2003
DocumentSession 2003
DocumentBudget and Taxes
DocumentHigher Education
DocumentK-12 Education
DocumentHealth and Welfare
DocumentPublic Safety
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
Pawlenty administration blasts Hatch over sexual predators story
Larger view
Charlie Weaver, the chief of staff for Gov. Pawlenty, angrily denies a published report saying the state was considering release sex offenders for budgetary reasons. (MPR Photo/Marisa Helms)
A war of words has erupted at the highest levels of state government in the wake of a newspaper article about Minnesota's sexual offender program. The article in Sunday's Star Tribune was headlined, State looks to release sexual psychopaths. Attorney General Mike Hatch is criticizing the Pawlenty administration for forcing early release of predators to save state money. Pawlenty chief of staff Charlie Weaver counters the article is wrong, and Hatch's claims politically motivated.

St. Paul, Minn. — The Star Tribune article says the state is looking at ways to release about 190 sexual psychopaths currently locked up in state treatment centers as part of the Minnesota Sexual Offender Program.

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch is one of the sources in the article. In the story, he criticizes the Pawlenty administration's no-new-taxes policy. "To keep a few bucks in people's pockets, we are going to let sexual predators out to harm people," Hatch is quoted as saying.

Larger view
Image 'We're the ones being victimed.'

Hatch said more of the same at a press conference at his state Capitol office.

"Now the executive director of this program was quoted in the paper as saying, 'listen, this was a budgetary issue, and that's why I left.' And saying that this change that they're proposing has nothing to do with improving treatment. We're spending $130,000, $140,000 per patient right now, but has everything to do with the budget," Hatch said.

Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, and Pam Poirier joined Hatch for the news conference. Poirier is the mother of Katie Poirier, who was killed in 1999. Serial sex offender Donald Blom was convicted of the crime. Blom is not in the state's sex offender program.

"I feel reading this article," she told reporters. "We're the one's being victimized. We're the ones who have to be looking over our shoulders all the time. These people, in my opinion, do not get rehabbed. Look at their records. They didn't do it just to one person, there's multiple. You might as well give your name to these predators who are going to be released and say, 'here.' You're, like, handing over your child."

As soon as the Hatch conference ended, reporters walked a few feet over to the news conference at Gov. Pawlenty's office across the hall.

Pawlenty's chief of staff, Charlie Weaver, angrily refuted the article's assertions.

"The headline today in the Star Tribune was just patently false, misleading, and irresponsible," he said.

Weaver said, and repeated for emphasis, that the Pawlenty administration is not making any changes related to the release of program offenders.

"This administration has never, ever proposed changing the criteria for when sexual predators were released. We didn't do it today, we didn't do it yesterday, we didn't do it last month, we didn't do it last year. It's never, ever happened," Weaver said.

Weaver says administrative cuts were made in the human services budget, but none of them would affect the nearly $20 million a year the state spends to keep sexual psychopaths locked up.

Weaver says DHS sources quoted in the article were taken out of context. However, he saved his harshest criticism not for the paper, but for Mike Hatch.

"It's really outrageous, from our perspective, that the attorney general of the state of Minnesota, our top legal official, would make these kinds of outrageous claims to to scare the public, to use victims in order to further his own political interests. That is despicable conduct, and shouldn't be tolerated by the people of this state," Weaver said.

Weaver says the administration will consider filing a complaint against the Star Tribune. The Star Tribune issued a statement saying, "The story speaks for itself. Clearly the state itself is divided on how to interpret the facts." They say they will continue to report the story aggressively.

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects