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Minnesota

Total Correctional Population: 119,500

Number on Parole or Probation: 103,900

Number in Local Jail or Prison: 16,300

Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 290

Incarceration Rate Rank: 47th

Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 2.6%

Sources: 

“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers 

 

Bills Recently Signed into Law

2017

Senate File 151: Creates protections from motor vehicle forfeiture for innocent vehicle owners who were not in or operating the vehicle at the time of seizure.

2016:

Senate File 3481: Reforms sentences for a number of drug offenses; expands the conditional release program for non-violent drug offenders.

News

April 5, 2019

“Rethinking whether these kinds of crimes should be considered violent would change the conversation about what must be done to cut the incarcerated population…”

The Marshall Project conducted a nationwide survey of statutes and found that many people being classified as “violent” criminals have committed offenses most would not consider violent. In Kentucky, possession of anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture methamphetamines is classified as a violent crime, and carries a potential sentence of 20-50 years. In Minnesota, possession of marijuana can be considered a violent offense. And in North Carolina, trafficking a stolen identify is classified as a violent crime.

March 29, 2019

“Deciding whether an inmate has changed and merits the opportunity to be returned to society shouldn’t rest with one person.” 

The Minnesota Legislature is considering resurrecting a parole board similar to the one the state had in the early 1980s. Under current law, Minnesota’s commissioner of the Department of Corrections is the only person authorized to grant or deny parole requests for individuals serving a term of life in prison. The proposed board would consist of five panelists recommended by leaders of both political parties, each of whom have at least five years of criminal-justice related experience. Paul Schnell, who was recently appointed to head the Department of Corrections, has endorsed the reform.

February 15, 2019

“…With bipartisan support and increased momentum to adopt criminal justice reforms, the 2019 Legislature should act to bring more fairness and effectiveness to Minnesota’s probation system.”

New polling from the Justice Action Network showed that 82% of Minnesotans supported standardizing probation guidelines, and 61% favored a five-year cap on felony probation. The Star Tribune editorial board cited the polling in an editorial in favor of recently-introduced probation reforms, as well as measures to encourage alternatives to incarceration. In addition to support for changes to the probation system, the poll showed that 74% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a county prosecutor who backed the reforms.  

November 2, 2018

“We believe that we have the city’s next leaders in this room. They’re not felons, they’re fellows.”

At Minneapolis’ All Square restaurant, every employee has a criminal record. While working at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, owner Emily Turner was frustrated by the obstacles faced by formerly incarcerated people, which she calls “one of the biggest civil rights issues of [her] generation.” Turner and the restaurant’s board created a 13-month fellowship program to help returning citizens and people with criminal records study marketing and finance, connect with mental health caseworkers, and get help with transportation and financial planning. Fellows start at $14 per hour, and are paid for 10 hours of structured coursework per week.

September 14, 2018

“That interaction tells them that the justice system is not just about punishment; that it also is invested in helping former inmates when they leave prison.”

Minnesota’s federal re-entry court matches participants with community mentors and does away with the adversarial system of normal court proceedings. Returning citizens who are deemed to be at high risk of re-offending work with judges and federal law-enforcement officials to help find housing, employment and addiction treatment. Program participants have a 27% recidivism rate, well below the 73% rate for high-risk individuals outside the program. Chief U.S. Probation Officer Kevin Lowry said the re-entry court saved up to $30,000 per participant each year by reducing recidivism and allowing people to remain on community supervision.

August 17, 2018

“As jurisdictions strive to increase efficiency, transparency, and accountability within government operations, performance management systems provide an accessible platform to monitor outcomes and inform policymaking statewide.”

A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts examines how states used performance management systems to ensure data-driven policy reforms are working. Minnesota created the Dashboard, a public website that tracks and reports performance, with detailed data that is regularly updated. New Mexico’s Agency Report Cards provide public accounting of performance ratings and scores within agencies, as well as information on whether the performance is getting better or worse. Pew’s report includes recommendations for states looking to implement performance review systems and create a culture of data-driven accountability.

June 29, 2018

“We believe that shedding light on state compassionate release programs is the first step to improving them.”
 
Families Against Mandatory Minimums released a report this week on the state of compassionate release programs across the country. They found a patchwork of policies, with incomplete, inconsistent and incoherent guidelines and rules. 25 states, including ArizonaIowaKentuckyMichiganMinnesotaNew YorkOhioPennsylvaniaRhode Island and Tennessee, have unclear or insufficient guidance surrounding their compassionate release programs for elderly incarcerated people, and Iowa has no formal compassionate release program at all. The report includes 21 policy recommendations to expand, improve, and publicize programs.  

June 15, 2018

“…The practice of suspending licenses for failing to pay traffic tickets or to appear in court traps many low-income Ohioans in the criminal justice system.”

A new report reveals 5.62% of Ohio’s nearly 8 million licensed drivers have a suspended or revoked license, the second-highest rate in the country. In addition to punishing driving infractions, the state suspends licenses for people who are unable to provide proof of insurance, or who fail to pay court fees or child support. Previous reporting by the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed that neighborhood suspension rates were directly correlated with the percentage of residents making less than 200% of the poverty level. Other states with high rates of suspended or revoked licenses include Minnesota (4.88%) and Iowa (4.79%)

June 8, 2018

“The MPD wishes to be a partner with our community stakeholders in these efforts that reduce the number of African-American males entering our criminal justice system.”
 
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Thursday that city police officers would no longer conduct stings targeting low-level marijuana sales with felony charges, and dismissed charges against 47 people arrested in 2018. City officials were alerted to racial disparities in arrests by the county’s chief public defender, who noted that 46 of the 47 people arrested were black. In his announcement, Chief Arradondo said they would seek alternatives to incarceration, including treatment, counseling and diversion.

May 4, 2018

“The numbers are actually staggering.”

A one-day snapshot of inmates at the Hennepin County, Minnesota jail in December showed that nearly 20% of inmates had a history of opioid use when they came into jail, nearly all were actively abusing opioids at the time of admission, and two-thirds of that proportion had previously overdosed on opioids. Only 18 of the jail’s 851 inmates had undergone inpatient addiction treatment. The jail now provides counseling for those leaving the jail, as well as two doses of naloxone and training on how to use it.

April 6, 2018

“We encourage expanded opportunities for those who have worked to overcome bad decisions earlier in life and emphasize our belief in second chance for those who are willing to work hard to turn their lives around.”

President Trump designated April 2018 “Second Chance Month,” and urged federal, state and local corrections systems to implement evidence-based programs that focus on job training, mentoring, mental health treatment, and addiction treatment. Similar proclamations have been introduced in the Senate by Republican Rob Portman and in the house by Democrat Tony Cardenas, and April 2018 has been declared Second Chance Month in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Minnesota, the District of Columbia, and the city of Minneapolis.

March 23, 2018

“Innocent people are losing their property without a meaningful requirement that prosecutors prove wrongdoing.”

Minnesota State Senator Scott Newman and Representative Jim Knoblach wrote about the need to abolish civil forfeiture and strengthen the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Their bill, which would require a conviction before property could be seized, was passed by a House committee on Tuesday and awaits action by the full House.

November 21, 2017

“We cannot have it both ways.” A new report from the American Enterprise Institute and Grant Duwe, research director for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, calls for broad reforms to reduce recidivism. “As long as we indulge our collective appetite for retribution, we cannot reasonably expect our prisons to successfully reduce recidivism.”