Lack of criminal accountability continues to jeopardize Minnesotans’ safety

News stories from this past week continue to grow the list of devastating consequences when violent individuals walk free in Minnesota.

Last Monday evening, 20-year-old Calon Markus Hatchett was arrested for shooting two Minneapolis women that left Tonia A. Powell dead and the other wounded, reported the Star Tribune. In the past year, Hatchett was charged with two armed carjackings, carrying a gun without a permit, illegal possession of a firearm, and drug possession, according to the Star Tribune article. Hatchett is currently being held in the Hennepin County Jail. 

Powell’s tragic death is one example of what ensues when violent criminals walk the streets. On Tuesday (July 25), Floyd Robert Desjarlais, 35, pled guilty to first degree assault and was sentenced to a five-year probation. Desjarlais is responsible for the fatal stabbing of Makhoa J. Martin, 19, on May 14, 2022 in Pike Bay Township, Minn. Desjarlais was originally charged in May 2022 with second degree murder and first degree manslaughter, both of which the court dismissed on Tuesday. 

Desjarlais also has a history of violent crimes, having been convicted of second degree assault in 2014, attempted violation of a domestic abuse no contact order in 2013, domestic assault in 2011, and third degree assault in 2007. However, despite Desjarlais’ long history of violence, ultimately resulting in the death of a teenager, he will only face the penalty for a lesser charge rather than serve prison time. 

Both Hatchett and Desjarlais had known histories of violence before killing Powell and Martin, respectively. Martin and Powell are not the first victims, and without changes to criminal accountability in Minnesota they will not be the last. 

From weak sentencing policy and judicial departures from sentencing guidelines to weak correctional policy and weak conditional release policy, “Minnesota’s penchant for progressive criminal justice system reform has betrayed our public safety,” writes American Experiment Public Safety Policy Fellow David Zimmer. Minnesotans must continue to “turn the heat up on our policymakers, providing momentum to move the pendulum back in the direction of accountability.” 

Adriana Isabella is a student at Hillsdale College and a current summer intern at American Experiment.