Monday was the first Sovereignty Day at the Capitol. We heard from tribal leaders from Minnesota’s 11 sovereign nations and learned about their history, culture, and communities. It was an incredible, impactful day. We must take seriously our responsibilities to consult and partner with our tribal governments.
Last week I introduced two bills to confront the disparities and unfairness of Minnesota’s probation system. One, HF 689, would cap probation at five years, and the other, HF 997, would permit the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to make recommendations for probation terms just as they do for prison terms. This would address the disparities we see in probation length depending on the region of the state.
Last Tuesday, we had a public hearing on the first bill. The most powerful moment by far was Jennifer Schroeder sharing her story. Jennifer is currently serving a 40 year probation term. Since being convicted for simple drug possession, she has graduated with a 4.0 GPA and become an alcohol and drug counselor. But Jennifer has seen impacts of her absurd probation term on her job and her housing. She is prevented from voting until she is 71. And she is subjected every day to shame, embarrassment, and a looming fear of prison.
I am so grateful to Jennifer for speaking out about Minnesota’s unfair and out of step probation system. Minnesota ranks fifth in the country for length of probation. Probation terms also vary widely across the state. Drug crimes in Rochester, for example, receive an average three times longer probation sentence than drug crimes in Duluth.
Excessive probation sentences are not rehabilitative, and in fact can make it harder for individuals to reintegrate. Since most probation revocations happen in the first three years, lengthy terms also burden probation officers with large caseloads that prevent them from devoting resources to those who need the most support.
It’s time for Minnesota to end its outlier status on probation and make commonsense reforms. You can read more about Jennifer’s story and my proposals in this Star Tribune article.
100 Percent Op Ed
The time has come to regain our place at the forefront of climate and clean energy leadership – and pave the way to a more just, stable future for all Minnesotans! That’s why Sen. Nick Frentz and I have introduced legislation to get Minnesota to 100% clean energy by 2050. Sen. Frentz and I wrote a MinnPost opinion piece about our plan and the many benefits of transitioning to clean energy.
Minnesota Values Podcast
Check out episode two of the Minnesota Values Podcast with co-host Rep. Liz Olson, featuring Rep. Kelly Moller and her plan to protect Minnesotans from sexual harassment. Tune in and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.