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Omnibus corrections bill OK’d

Published (3/2/2012)
By Mike Cook
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Victims who would like to be informed when their offender is released from prison or a secure hospital could be notified electronically.

This is one of four provisions in an omnibus Department of Corrections bill approved Feb. 28 by the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), HF2415 awaits action by the House Ways and Means Committee.

“The most powerful healing tool for a victim is information,” said Lydia Newlin, victim assistance program manager for the Corrections Department. “This just clarifies … kind of gets us modernized into where we’re at today with allowing victims to request notification.”

Newlin said most victim notification is an opt-in procedure, and current law requires that to be done by writing a request to the corrections commissioner. A federal grant has helped the department develop a new electronic system called Minnesota Choice, which, in part, provides victims a choice in how they want to be notified.

Also in the omnibus bill is:

HF1938, sponsored by Cornish, which would allow the Department of Corrections’ Fugitive Apprehension Unit to apply for a search warrant;

HF1958, sponsored by Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center), which would bar offenders convicted of murder, manslaughter, criminal sexual conduct, assault, drive-by shooting, assault, robbery, arson and other specified crimes from participating in the Challenge Incarceration Program; and

HF1959, sponsored by Hilstrom, which would eliminate an annual performance report from the Department of Corrections, instead reverting back to a biennial report. This is expected to save the department approximately $8,000.

A companion to HF2415, SF2084, sponsored by Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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