Minnesota House of Representatives


State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

For more information contact: Susie Merthan 651-296-2955

Posted: Apr 13 2015 4:33PM
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Legislative Update - April 13, 2015

Dear friends,
Sentencing Circles
There are a number of forms of restorative justice available to residents of Washington County, most of which are focused on juvenile offenders. There is a lesser known option available to offenders and victims of all ages called Sentencing Circles. Sentencing Circles is practiced by Washington County Community Circles, Inc., an all-volunteer non-profit currently active in Woodbury, Stillwater and Cottage Grove. WCCC, Inc. partners with the traditional justice system (judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim advocates) to offer a restorative alternative to the often punitive justice system for appropriate criminal cases. Cases are referred to WCCC Inc. by the courts after all parties to the case, including the offender and, most importantly, the victim, agree that the offender wishes to repair the harm caused by the offense and make positive behavioral changes in their life.
 If the Community Circle decides to accept the case referral, trained community volunteers meet with the offender (and the victim if they wish to be involved in the process) around twice a month for a period of 2-4 months to gain knowledge of the situation that led to the offense and develop a sentencing compact designed to assist the offender with repairing the harm caused by the incident and in making positive behavioral changes. The sentence is then presented for the court's approval. After the approval is granted by the court the offender is placed on probation to the Circle for a period of 12 to 24 months. During this time, the Circle meets with the offender on a monthly basis and assists as necessary with completion of the obligations imposed by the sentence. If the offender cannot fulfill the sentencing obligations the case will be returned to the court. In the large majority of Sentencing Circle cases in Washington County the offender is able to successfully complete the Circle obligations. This outcome is reported to court and results in no conviction for the offense.
Sentencing Circles have been practiced in Washington County since 1998 in Stillwater and Cottage Grove and 2006 in Woodbury. During this time over 100 cases have been handled. In 2014, WCCC Inc. was involved with 12 active cases requiring over 2000 volunteer hours. At the end of the year there were 56 active volunteers in the organization. New volunteers are always welcome. More information is available on the WCCC, Inc. website at http://www.peacemakingcircles.org or by calling Bob Storlie at 651-735-9344.
Invasive Plants
The spread of invasive plant species poses a serious threat to Minnesota’s environment. Non-native invasive species threaten Minnesota’s native plants and animals. This week’s invasive plant is Grecian Foxglove. Grecian Foxglove is a noxious weed that is toxic to people and animals, and has been particularly invasive in Washington County. It has dark, spear-shaped leaves, and has cream-colored tubular flowers. It is important to avoid touching the plant with bare skin. If seen, it should be reported for eradication to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Report Grecian foxglove by emailing "Arrest the Pest" to arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or calling 651-201-6684 (metro) or 1-888-545-6684 FREE (toll-free).
Please contact me anytime with comments, concerns or questions you may have. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn
JoAnn Ward


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