Discredited Walz appointee worried about retraumatizing criminals

Gov. Tim Walz’s voice on the Sentencing Guidelines Commission is so out of the mainstream that she’s been kicked out of some of Minnesota’s most liberal organizations. Tonya Honsey describes herself as a revolutionary mother, a truth-teller, a survivor of incarceration and a community healer. She used to describe herself as indigenous, until her colleagues fact-checked this claim and confronted her for misappropriating a Native American heritage and bloodline.

After Honsey introduced herself as an “Indigenous Woman from Turtle Island” at the 2018 National Council for Incarcerated Women and Girls in Tulsa, Oklahoma, organizers began to question the authenticity of her claims. Eventually Honsey admitted she lied about her ancestry, having grown up in a typical Minnesota middle class white family.

This admission started a chain reaction of public repudiations from several groups, starting with her employer, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which promptly fired her as Executive Director. A nonprofit that Honsey actually founded, We Rise!, disbanded. The American Indian Prison Project also put out a statement repudiating Honsey. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to spreading the word of Honsey’s history of lying.

It’s shocking that Lt. Governor Peggy Flannagan (the nation’s first Native American Lt. Governor) allows Honsey to remain an appointee in good standing in the Walz administration.  

Honsey and Paul Schnell from the Minnesota Department of Corrections are leading the Walz/Flannagan agenda on the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to weaken prison sentences for felons.  She spoke out on behalf of criminals at their last meeting:

“I think we need to end this us versus them when it comes to public safety. Public safety needs to include everyone, and that includes people that we are talking about in this instance.”

Honsey voiced concern about felons being “retraumatized” when they are sent to prison. She expressed no such concern for the victims of their crimes.

There is a public hearing this Thursday, Dec. 16 to hear testimony on a policy change to drop custody status points from consideration in sentencing for felonies. The Commission believes criminals should not be given stronger sentences if they commit more crimes while on probation or parole, or even if they’ve escaped custody. That will mean lower sentences for criminals who commit murder, rape, assault, robbery and felony DWI!

Worse yet, sex offenders currently receive double points for their custody status, so eliminating this part of the grid will disproportionally benefit the worst criminals in our system.

Sign the petition

There are two opportunities for public input before the final vote on Dec. 16, 2021.

You can also attend the public meeting at 1:00 p.m. on Dec. 16 and voice your opposition to this change in person. Click here for more details.

When asked about his appointees to the Commission, Walz told the Pioneer Press:

“A spokesperson for Gov. Tim Walz said he had no comment on the matter as the governor appoints hundreds of officials to state boards and he is removed from the decision.”

It’s hard for Walz to argue that he’s “removed from the decision” when his appointees are driving the discussion and are so far winning the argument. Ironically, the victim voice on the commission (also appointed by Walz) was missing during the original debate. Walz has since filled that position and we’ll find out on Thursday if her vote will change the group’s dynamic.