After 38 years of state service, Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) Executive Director Dennis Benson will retire June 5.


After 38 years of state service, Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) Executive Director Dennis Benson will retire June 5.

“I am proud to have been part of a group of people who work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Benson. “People who want to change can change. I am grateful to have been part of two organizations that genuinely care about marginalized populations. The work that goes on here is both noble and necessary.”

Benson began his state service career in 1974 as a correctional officer. He went on to serve as a caseworker, unit director, associate warden, and warden of the Department of Correction’s (DOC) Oak Park Heights and Stillwater facilities. Benson also served as DOC deputy commissioner for the Facility Services Division for 12 years. In 2008, he joined the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) as executive director of MSOP.

Upon arriving at DHS, Benson was charged with helping separate MSOP from DHS’ State Operated Services, which serves people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chemical dependency and traumatic brain injury.  During his time with MSOP, the program has opened a new 400-bed unit in Moose Lake, brought down the cost of the program and paid off a $16 million program deficit. Under Benson’s leadership, MSOP sought greater transparency and public awareness of the program. In addition, MSOP also saw the provisional discharge of its first client in a number of years.

Benson was a member of the National Deputy Directors’ Association and serves on the board of directors of Amicus.

“One of the first – and most important – things I learned as a new commissioner was to trust and rely on Dennis Benson’s judgment and integrity,” DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. “His retirement truly marks the end of an amazing career of public service.”

Nancy Johnston, facility director at MSOP in St. Peter, will serve as interim director while DHS seeks a permanent replacement.