Take carjacking seriously!
FINAL UPDATE: On Thursday, July 27, 2023, the MSGC reversed course and voted 7-2 to enhance the penalty for carjacking in Minnesota.
The reversal came “after receiving thousands of public comments.”
In early 2023, the Minnesota Legislature recognized carjacking as a new form of robbery, but left it to the Sentencing Guideline Commission to assign the penalty.
Sadly, the Commission was considering treating carjacking just like an existing robbery, meaning far too many carjackers would avoid jail time.
Thousands of Minnesotans sent messages asking Sentencing Guidelines Commission to take carjacking seriously when they voted on Thursday, July 27.
Because of those messages, carjacking will be treated as the serious crime it is.
What is the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission?
The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission (MSGC) is a quietly influential group that has a significant impact on Minnesota’s public safety. (Read more about them here.) One of the MSGC’s roles is to establish guidelines for our courts to use when sentencing offenders. When a new law is passed, such as the recent carjacking law, the commission must determine what severity level the new crime should fit into for sentencing purposes at one of their monthly meetings.
For far too long, the work of the MSGC has carried on comfortably out of sight and out of the influence of everyday Minnesotans. That needs to change.
How bad is Minnesota’s carjacking problem?
Just a few years ago, such an act was almost unheard of, but that began to change in 2019 when the act of carjacking exploded in the Twin Cities, particularly in Minneapolis. According to the Star Tribune, carjacking increased over 500% between 2019 and 2020. The 2021 total is thought to be over 750 statewide, with more than 650 in Minneapolis alone.
We have all heard the accounts of people accosted as they pulled up to their homes or drove into their garages — many in broad daylight, and many in neighborhoods where this type of violence had been non-existent. An elderly woman was even carjacked as she returned to her car in an Edina grocery store parking lot.
Tragically, along with the explosion in randomness and sheer numbers, there was a notable increase in carjackings occurring with young children buckled into car seats or family pets in the backseats of cars taken from people. These incidents understandably cause significant trauma to the victims, arguably far more so than a traditional robbery of cash or other goods. It’s a trauma that has had a devastating impact on the well-being of Minnesota.