For those sex offenders in prison in Minnesota, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held that the state cannot threaten greater punishment if an offender refuses to admit wrongful conduct in the course of treatment:
Threatening sex offenders with more time behind bars if they don't admit their crimes in prison treatment programs violates their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The court's 5-2 decision overturned a 1999 ruling in which it found the opposite -- that more prison time wasn't enough to force an inmate to incriminate himself. The current case involved two inmates convicted of sex crimes -- Frank Edward Johnson and John William Henderson.
Both refused to participate in sex offender treatment that would have required them to admit to sex offenses and discuss the incidents in detail. Johnson was appealing his conviction, while Henderson argued that he would open himself up to perjury charges if he admitted a crime he had denied during his trial and appeal.
Both men got 45 extra days in prison for not participating in the program.
Chief Justice Russell Anderson, writing for the majority, cited a 2002 opinion from then-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor saying that the threat of more prison time could be enough to compel a person to reveal information that could lead to incarceration.
"Extension of the inmates' incarceration time for their refusal to admit sexual offenses in sex offender treatment did rise to the level of compulsion for purposes of their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination," his opinion said.
This is really a classic catch-22 situation for offenders. Under the state's position, an offender receives more time if he or she doesn't admit to past wrongdoing. However, if the offender admits wrongdoing, that can be used to support a diversion to a civil commitment facility. I would have been surprised if the court had reached any other decision.