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 convicted felons 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 offender'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 an 11-member body created by the Legislature to develop and maintain the Guidelines, a set of rules that judges must apply in felony sentencing.
- The Commission employs a full-time staff of six 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 felons were sentenced. In 2017, 18,288 felons were sentenced.
- In addition to more felons being sentenced over the years, sentencing lengths have increased, and the Guidelines have become far more complex, due, in part, to statutory enhancements and mandatory minimums.