Civil forfeiture reform in Minnesota, and the news in criminal justice this week

“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.

“When it comes to kids, public safety and rehabilitation are kind of inextricably linked.”

Virginia has dramatically decreased its juvenile incarcerated population, but still struggles with high rates of recidivism—more than 70% of juveniles are rearrested within three years of their release. In a multimedia story for The Atlantic, Nicolas Pollock examines the state’s last remaining youth detention facility and the factors that hinder successful reentry.

"If we want strong families, a thriving economy and a more robust workforce, we need to reduce our dependence on incarceration and protracted sentencing while maintaining public safety."

The chorus of voices supporting justice reforms, including more effective sentencing practices for nonviolent crimes and proven approaches to cut recidivism and prison populations, continues to grow. The influential State Chamber of Oklahoma is working to turn around the corrections system in their state, which regrettably continues to be home to the largest female incarceration rate in the country and the second-highest male incarceration rate, all while Oklahoma’s Legislature continues to consider a raft of measures that would begin to right-size their prison system.

“If you break the law and illegally peddle these deadly poisons, we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will hold you accountable.”

President Trump announced a new strategy for fighting the opioid crisis, including increased education and treatment funding, longer sentences for drug offenses, and pursuing the death penalty in drug trafficking cases. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently found that increased imprisonment had no statistically significant relationship with self-reported drug use, drug overdose deaths, and drug arrests.

“The cycle of crime and punishment doesn’t create better citizens and safer communities. It creates better criminals.”

In The Hill, Young Republican National Federation Chairman Jason Emert and CPS’s Jenna Moll argued that corrections systems need to be more focused on reducing recidivism, including the federal government. In recent years, Arizona and Louisiana have taken steps to provide education, mentoring, substance abuse treatment, vocational training to people who are incarcerated, and Tennessee has reduced barriers to employment for those who have been released. These states have undertaken these reforms within a conservative framework: achieving lower crime rates while spending fewer tax dollars on broken approaches to criminal justice.