St. Paul - Today HF865, “Cassy’s Law” unanimously passed the committee on public safety. I authored this legislation in 2019 after meeting with Tim Barry, the father of Cassondra Barry. Cassy was 26 when she gave birth to her daughter and had hernia surgery, which resulted in a massive stroke, damaging her frontal lobe. Her leg was amputated to save her life. Due to her lack of impulse control, she ran into trouble with the courts and was in solitary confinement for most of the time she was incarcerated.
This bill directs judges to order a neuropsychological evaluation before sentencing when a defendant with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is convicted of a felony. If the assessment reveals a lack of impulse control due to a TBI, then sentences could be adjusted to seek effective treatment. We should not be criminalizing mental illness.
This legislation passed the House with bipartisan support last year, and I am a co-author of this years’ bill carried by Rep. Athena Hollins (D-St Paul) to help people in Minnesota. I am pleased to see Rep. Luke Frederick (D-Mankato) as another local co-author, as he brings his experience from working at the St Peter Regional Treatment Center to this effort. We need to work together more often when our priorities align. I will continue to fight for this legislation as it advances through the legislative process.