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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL)

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Make Your Voice Heard on Probation Reform

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone in our community a safe, enjoyable, happy holidays full of joy and fellowship with loved ones. Amid all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s also a great time to reflect on the year gone by, show gratitude for what’s special in our lives, and look ahead to our aspirations for 2020.

For my part, I’m grateful for the continued opportunity to represent our area of Saint Paul at the Capitol, and look forward to another year of partnership with people in the community to strengthen the lives of all Minnesotans.


Alert: MN Sentencing Guidelines Commission to Consider Probation Reforms

I want to alert you to an opportunity to be part of something I have been working on.

Minnesota has the fifth-highest percentage of residents on community supervision, with people of color facing wide sentencing disparities. The state also lacks a uniform system of probation guidelines, meaning sentencing terms can vary wildly among Minnesota’s 87 counties. In some counties judges issue terms that are many more years than the terms for the same offense in another county. In addition, some terms are so long - even reaching 40 years - as to make notions of fairness and redemption meaningless. Terms this unreasonably and arbitrarily long do nothing to improve public safety, and in fact probation workers having higher caseloads results in less attention available for high-risk offenders.

We have an opportunity to change this. This Thursday, December 19, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission will hold a public hearing to consider a series of overdue reforms, including a five-year cap on probation terms in the state, with exceptions made for the most serious offenders. The Commission is seeking public input, and it’s absolutely critical for Minnesotans to take advantage of this opportunity and share how important these changes are, especially for communities of color. The Commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1100 of the Minnesota Senate Building (95 University Avenue W.), just north of the State Capitol. You’re invited to share your comments in person, but if you’re unable to attend, please send written comments to sentencing.guidelines@state.mn.us.

During the 2019 session, the House approved a five-year cap along with a measure calling on the MSGC to establish statewide probation guidelines. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Senate refused to consider the proposals. Minnesotans overwhelmingly support probation reform, and I’m hopeful the Commission will move forward with these positive steps.

It’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol. Please continue to be in touch with your feedback, input, or if I can ever be of assistance. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, and a special New Year.

Sincerely,

Carlos Mariani
State Representative