Minnesota Seeks to Lower Sentencing Guidelines, Major Pushback from Republican Lawmakers

Anne Neu and Erik Mortensen


Minnesota is seeking to lower sentencing guidelines with a new proposal that gets rid of the points system that Minnesota has operated on. The current guidelines give each perpetrator points based on the type of crime and how many previous crimes have been committed. The more points a convicted criminal has, the longer the sentence.

Major pushback has occurred from Republicans, with some comparing the sentencing Melissa “Lisa” Hanson received to others who have been “let off the hook” for more violent crimes.

State Representative Erik Mortensen (R-Shakopee) said in a Facebook post, “No charges and certainly no jail time for smash and grab robbers. But if you’re a grandma who opens her bistro to allow people to voluntarily make a purchase, you’re tossed in the slammer for 90 days.”

“We’ve seen a real spike in violent crime, much of that crime we’ve seen has been committed by folks who are on probation, who had an early release from prison or were given probation in lieu of going to prison, and now they are out committing violent crimes. This is not a hypothetical problem right now,” State Representative Anne Neu Brindley (R-North Branch) said in an interview with WCCO.

Others spoke in favor of changing the guidelines, saying that they are keeping people in prison who do not need to be there. “A lot of these folks are folks suffering from chemical dependency,” State Representative Jamie Long (D-Minneapolis) told WCCO. “They really need treatment, they don’t need prison, and so I think we should be looking to the professionals on the [Minnesota] Sentencing Guidelines Commission (MSGC) who are trying to come up with a fair process in how we are sentencing people in Minnesota.”

According to MSGC, the estimated impact on prison beds would reduce the number of inmates by 536.

When Governor Tim Walz was asked about the proposed changes, he appeared to speak in favor of them. “Trying to tell Minnesotans that this is somehow going to make them less safe is simply not true,” Walz said, regarding those who opposed the new guidelines. “The sentencing commission is made up of a vast swath of expertise.”

MSGC met on Thursday where it received public comment from 30 people on their proposed amendments. The commission will meet on January 13, 2022, to decide what amendments it will be adopting.

– – –

Hayley Feland is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “Anne Neu” by Peter Michael Grund CC BY 2.0 and photo “Erik Mortensen” by Representative Erik Mortensen.







Related posts