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

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RELEASE: House DFLers advance innovative Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Budget Package

Friday, April 8, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Thursday, the House Public Safety & Criminal Justice Reform Committee approved its 2022 finance bill. The package invests $200 million in proven, transformative, and innovative solutions to help Minnesota tackle some of the largest challenges to keeping people and communities safe.

“This budget drives a public safety approach that’s innovative in nature and truly meets the moment to solve the problems communities across the state are experiencing,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL – Saint Paul), chair of the committee. “Our House DFL public safety budget invests in additional capacity for law enforcement to effectively do their jobs, improves a wide variety of criminal justice practices, and truly empowers communities to prevent violence. We can’t continue taking a ‘same old, same old’ approach and expect better public safety outcomes. The critical components in this bill address the root causes of crime in a collaborative way to improve public safety everywhere in Minnesota.” 

The hallmark provision in the bill is the Public Safety Innovation Act, authored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope), the committee’s vice chair, with $150 million worth of investments in expedited, data-driven strategies for communities to address increasing crime, hire additional personnel, and rebuild community trust with law enforcement.

"This package that we put together recognizes that crime is real and that states with the most punitive approaches, similar to that being brought by the Senate GOP, have not shown those approaches to be successful,” said Rep. Frazier. “We can't expect new results with the same old policies. If we're going to confront crime we need a more effective and efficient public safety system, we need a more resourced public safety system, and we need a more innovative public safety system."

House DFLers are working to advance juvenile justice measures including grants for prevention, intervention, mental health, and wellness. The bill modifies the treatment of juveniles in the delinquency process to prohibit solitary confinement, funds the Youth Conflict Resolution Center, invests in Youth Intervention Programs, and grants to fund the crossover and dual-status youth model to improve outcomes for youth in both the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system.

The bill funds additional resources for local governments for emergency management, ARMER-compatible radios, and grants for EpiPens for law enforcement agencies. Other support for law enforcement and first responders includes the creation of a new Wellness Office to improve mental health, funding for the Minnesota Heals stress management program to include equine therapy, and grants for firefighters and EMTs to purchase soft body armor.

To strengthen officer accountability, the bill extends the civil statute of limitations for bodily offenses committed by law enforcement officers. It reforms body camera policies, including a requirement that footage be released to families within five days after a deadly force incident and to the public within 14 days. The budget contains enough funding to ensure local departments can equip each officer with a body camera at all times.

The package includes numerous provisions to help those previously convicted of crimes turn their lives around following past mistakes, including the Clean Slate Act which removes barriers that make it difficult to access housing, education, and employment. The bill also reforms the Board of Pardons and creates a Clemency Review Commission, updates Minnesota’s cannabis decriminalization policy, and includes investments in higher education in correction facilities, creating prison-to-employment pathways.

The budget invests in communities of color by establishing an Office for Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, a Missing & Murdered Indigenous Relatives tip reward fund, and funding to create the Healing House, a space where Indigenous women involved in the justice system can receive trauma-informed support and get on the path to stability. Labor trafficking laws are also strengthened under the bill, as well as measures to improve the ability to hold people committing domestic violence accountable.

Following work of the Governor’s Council on Justice Reinvestment, the bill includes significant reforms to Minnesota’s community supervision system. It creates a new supervision standards committee made up of key probation stakeholders, and an immediate major increase in the probation funding formula with grants to counties and Tribal governments, and a transition to a permanent, transparent funding formula is included in the budget.

Other notable highlights in the bill include $4 million in additional direct assistance to crime victims, a measure authorizing the use of GPS devices to track stolen vehicles, funding to increase forensic and analytical capacity at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, an expanded definition of computer theft crimes, and more.

The committee’s action follows several hearings of public input and member discussion. Video of the hearings are available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel. A spreadsheet of the investments in the package is available here.