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Welcome to the Office of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan Newsroom. Here you will find our latest press releases, statements, and other information. 

Governor Walz Announces New Bipartisan, Data-Driven Effort Aimed at Reducing Recidivism and Improving Community Safety

The Governor will convene this bipartisan effort group of key justice system stakeholders and partners from all 87 counties to seek better outcomes from the system

12/21/2021 12:24:07 PM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 21-34, establishing the Governor’s Council on Justice Reinvestment. This Council will launch a bipartisan effort to improve community supervision outcomes and increase the likelihood of success for people on probation and supervised release (akin to parole) to improve community safety across Minnesota. The Governor’s Council on Justice Reinvestment is composed of bipartisan representatives from all three branches of government, county leadership, a representative of tribes in Minnesota, and key criminal justice stakeholders from both Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

“To keep Minnesota a great place for kids to grow up, we need safe neighborhoods and communities,” said Governor Walz. “For that to happen, we must deal with crime and violence in ways that are grounded in data and research, not politics. This initiative will bring together leaders from across the state – and from both sides of the aisle – to build data-driven policies that will make Minnesota’s criminal justice system more effective, fair, and equitable.”

“The Justice Reinvestment Initiative demonstrates Minnesota’s commitment to following the data and investing in what works to support individuals after incarceration, build strong communities, and keep families whole. This is not only good stewardship of taxpayer dollars, but also an investment in our ability to support Minnesotans in the criminal justice system and ensure they do not fall through the cracks,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan.

This effort will involve an extensive review of the state’s spending—particularly related to community supervision—to determine a more equitable funding model that allocates resources to communities across the state based on need.

This project is part of the federally-funded Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) and was jointly initiated by leaders from the state’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches as well as county leadership. Justice Reinvestment is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.

In Minnesota, the annual cost of managing correctional facilities, supporting county supervision partners, and providing reentry services is more than $600 million, of which just over one-fifth is dedicated to community supervision. Yet Minnesota has the nation’s fifth-highest rate of people on probation, with 2 in every 100 adults in the state on probation as of 2018. Because more than 60 percent of prison admissions are due to supervision revocations, state leaders question the efficacy of the state’s current criminal justice investments and desire additional transparency and accountability for state funds dedicated to supervision.

Additionally, the state’s probation system has become increasingly inequitable. In 2019, the rate of Black adults on felony probation was nearly five times higher than the rate of white people on felony probation. For Native Americans, this rate was more than nine times higher than for white people, and the rate is 1.7 times higher for Latinx people. The state is also ill-equipped to adequately support the high number of people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders in the criminal justice system.

State and county leaders are committed to investing corrections dollars in supervision, treatment for people with mental illnesses and substance addictions, programming, and reentry services that work. They recognize the need to act now to ensure that corrections funding is wisely invested going forward.

The extensive review of the state’s criminal justice system will be supported by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The CSG Justice Center—a national, nonpartisan organization known for developing research-driven public safety strategies—will ultimately share its findings and offer policy recommendations to the Governor’s Council on Justice Reinvestment.

Senator Julie Rosen, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Kevin Reese, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Until We Are All Free, will serve as the Council’s Co-Chairs. In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Justice Reinvestment Council will be comprised of 13 members appointed by the Governor. These members include:

  • Commissioner Paul Schnell
  • Senator John Marty
  • Representative Rena Moran
  • Representative Paul Novotny
  • Jason Anderson, Probation Director, Itasca County
  • Catherine Johnson, Community Corrections and Rehabilitation Department Director, Hennepin County
  • John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney
  • Judge Jennifer Frisch, Minnesota Court of Appeals
  • Tim Leslie, Dakota County Sheriff
  • Kelly Lyn Mitchell, Public Member, Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission and Executive Director of the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
  • Jack Swanson, Roseau County Commissioner and Association of Minnesota Counties Public Safety Chair
  • Dr. Yohuru Williams, Distinguished University Chair, Professor of History, and Founding Director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas
  • Chairman Kevin DuPuis, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
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