In light of several high-profile cases regarding the way law enforcement deals with civilians, the national media has given substantial attention lately to the how the criminal justice system works. The coverage has not only caught the attention of any criminal defense attorney MN, but has sparked activists and legislators to start considering reforms across the board, including in Minnesota programs and at the federal level.
Restoring the vote
In 2009, Minnesota passed a Ban the Box law, which prevents public employers from asking applicants about their criminal history during the initial hiring phase. At the beginning of 2014, private employers were also prohibited from requesting such information at the start of the process.
Going a step further, advocates are pushing for people who are on parole or probation to regain the right to vote. Under current Minnesota statute, a person with a felony criminal conviction is not eligible to vote. Groups such as Restore the Vote Minnesota state that the existing law creates a misrepresentation of the population, as there is a disproportion between the number of Caucasians and minorities who are convicted of felonies. According to a report from Minnesota Daily, last year more than 25 percent of felony offenders in the state were black and unable to vote due to their criminal record.
Sex offender system
Another potential change coming to Minnesota involves the current corrections policy for habitual sex offenders. According to Minnesota Daily, a state representative is planning to propose a bill that would put in place a minimum 60-year prison sentence for people who have repeatedly been charged with a crime involving sex offenses.
As any criminal defense attorney in MN knows, the existing treatment program has often been called out for its shortcomings. Even a federal judge in 2014 stated that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program may violate the U.S. Constitution, according to a report from the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune reports that the MSOP currently holds 700 offenders. Critics state that the program places the convicted people in prison-like treatment centers that often hold them longer than their prison sentences. The proposed legislation would instead place people in the care of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, taking into account the severity of the crime and the mental health status of the defendant.
A sociology professor at the University of Minnesota told the Minnesota Daily that people have recently been more open to criminal justice reform. Anyone with questions regarding these potential changes should consult with a criminal defense attorney in MN.