Op-Ed in Star Tribune: Minnesota Must Wise Up About Probation Reform

Syrita Bowen News, Uncategorized

U.S. Justice Action Network Deputy Director Jenna Moll and Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Patrick Purtill wrote a Star Tribune op-ed to remind Minnesotans that bipartisan probation reform is a proven way to deal with the state’s growing incarceration rate. They urge the legislature to take action on this reform now. Excerpts from the op-ed are below and you can read the full piece in the Star Tribune here

 “Minnesota has one of the fastest-growing prison population rates in the country. While the imprisonment rate nationally decreased more than seven percent between 2005 and 2015, Minnesota’s increased by 8 percent, even while crime was cut by 30 percent.

“One of the main drivers of this growth has been probation violations. Between 2001 and 2014, 16 percent of those placed on probation were remanded to prison for a violation, representing more than 24,000 admissions statewide. In 2014, a quarter of the male prison population was behind bars due to a probation revocation.

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“Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Blaine, and Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, have authored legislation to start Minnesota down this proven path… These bills have our support, as well as the support of the Public Defender’s office, the Minnesota Association of Community Corrections Act Counties, counties throughout the state, probation officers, and the governor’s office. And the voters are on the side of smarter criminal justice, too: A poll out last year from the U.S. Justice Action Network showed that 91 percent of Minnesotans agree that prisons cost taxpayers a lot of money and we should be focused on putting away more of the truly dangerous criminals.

“The last forecast made for Minnesota’s prison population projected growth of more than 1,100 offenders during the next 10 years, which would cost millions in prison construction. We must start the work now to avoid this. Otherwise, in a few decades, Minnesota lawmakers might be calling colleagues in Louisiana and Oklahoma to learn how they dealt with chart-topping incarceration rates.”