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Sex offender's ex-wife calls for life terms

ST. PAUL - Amy Blom sat at the witness table, head bowed, quietly supporting life sentences for the most dangerous sex offenders. "The emotional pain I have suffered is a life sentence," she told the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee, so se...

ST. PAUL - Amy Blom sat at the witness table, head bowed, quietly supporting life sentences for the most dangerous sex offenders.

"The emotional pain I have suffered is a life sentence," she told the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee, so sex offenders should face the same fate.

Blom is the former wife of Donald Blom, convicted in one of the state's most celebrated murder cases. He is serving a life prison sentence in the 1999 death of Moose Lake convenience store clerk Katie Poirier.

Amy Blom told the committee that her husband abused her throughout their marriage. She said he had five sex convictions before killing Poirier.

Sex offenders don't quit offending, she said, they just get better at avoiding being caught.

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House and Senate committees Thursday considered their own bills handing sex offenders tougher sentences, but approaches differ.

"Our bill is safe," Rep. Kurt Zellers said about the measure he sponsors. "Their (senators') bill is sorry. I'd rather be safe than sorry."

The Zellers' bill, like a proposal by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, mandates life sentences without chance of release for the most violent sex offenders and doubles current sentences for others. Some sex offenders could be released by a parole board.

The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, allows a parole board to release any sex offender, although only after he meets strict requirements.

State officials estimate that the Zellers-Pawlenty bill would require up to 7,500 new prison beds in the next 50 years because it would put many more offenders behind bars. The Senate bill would need 1,200 more beds.

Zellers said a parole board could keep dangerous inmates in prison up to life if an inmate does not complete sex offender treatment or otherwise the board does not feel he is ready to be released.

"I would have loved to have had that opportunity when Alfonzo Rodriquez was released," said Zellers, who like Dru Sjodin attended the University of North Dakota.

Rodriquez was released from a Minnesota prison after finishing his sentence in 2003 and a few months later was arrested in Sjodin's kidnapping and death. He pleaded innocent and awaits a federal trial.

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The Senate Crime and Public Safety Committee Thursday rejected a Republican effort to turn Ranum's bill into one more like the Zellers measure, with some required life sentences, by 5-3 margin.

The House committee will further consider its bill, while the Senate measure advanced to the Finance Committee.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

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