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About MSGC

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission (MSGC) embodies the goals of the criminal justice system as determined by the citizens of our state through their elected representatives. The MSGC establishes and modifies the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, which promote uniform and proportional sentences for people with a felony conviction and help to ensure that sentencing decisions are not influenced by factors such as race, gender, or the exercise of constitutional rights by the defendant. The Guidelines serve as a model for the criminal justice system as a whole to aspire to, as well as provide a standard to measure how well the system is working. The purpose of the Guidelines is to establish rational and consistent sentencing standards that promote public safety, reduce sentencing disparity, ensure that the sanctions imposed for felony convictions are proportional to the severity of the offense and the individual's criminal history. The Guidelines also support the appropriate use of finite correctional resources.

Facts About the Commission:

  • In 1978, Minnesota created the nation's first sentencing guidelines commission.
  • In 1980, Minnesota became the first state to implement a sentencing guidelines structure.
  • The Commission is created by the Legislature to develop and maintain the Guidelines, a set of rules that judges must apply in felony sentencing.
  • The Commission originally was an 11-member body, consisting of the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court or a designee, a judge from the Court of Appeals, a district court judge, a public defender, a county attorney, the Commissioner of Corrections or designee, a peace officer, a probation or parole officer, and three members from the general public – one of whom must be a victim of a felony crime.
  • In 2023, the Commission was expanded from an 11-member body to a 13-member body by adding a seat for a treatment/rehabilitative service provider for individuals convicted of felony offenses and a seat for an academic with a background in criminal justice/corrections. In addition to this change, one of the public members must have been convicted and discharged from a felony-level sentence.
  • The Commission employs a full-time staff to maintain the Guidelines, train criminal justice professionals, collect and analyze data, and respond to questions about the Guidelines.
  • In 1981, when the Guidelines went into effect, 5,500 people were sentenced for a felony offense. In 2022, 16,259 people were sentenced for a felony offense.
  • In addition to more people being sentenced over the years for a felony offense, sentencing lengths have increased, and the Guidelines have become far more complex, due, in part, to statutory enhancements and mandatory minimums.
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