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Gov. Pawlenty wants longer prison time for sex offenders

Gov.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants legislators to change state law so that an offender convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct would receive a 25-year sentence, instead of the current 12-year sentence.

“Offenders who commit these heinous crimes should be locked up for an even longer period of time,” Pawlenty said today in proposing the legislation.

Current law says that someone who commits a particularly egregious first offense or is a repeat sex offender, could be sentenced to life in prison or until they could prove they were worthy of release. Offenders would have had to commit their first offense with two other “heinous elements” before they could be sentenced for life.

But Pawlenty noted that under current law, offenders who are convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct without such “heinous elements” face a maximum sentence of 30 years, and that Minnesota courts typically impose a presumptive sentence of 12 years. The governor’s proposal will more than double the 12-year presumptive sentence to 25 years.

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He said the longer sentences would not increase state costs for the first five years, although by 2016-17 there would be an estimated increase of $208,000.

But there would also be a long-term savings, because offenders who would have been civilly committed in the more expensive Minnesota Sex Offender Program would be kept in prison longer than under current law. Prison costs are currently $63 per day, while civil commitment costs are $325 per day.

“Keeping these dangerous offenders in prison longer is a much better and more economical approach,” he said.