They listened! Sentencing Commission postpones vote

American Experiment followers flood Commission with comments opposing changes

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission today postponed the vote on a proposal to weaken prison terms for felons after receiving thousands of comments opposing the change. American Experiment’s call to action on this issue generated over 3,800 comments, representing the overwhelming majority of the total comments received. Commissioner Paul Schnell, representing the Walz administration on the Commission, moved to postpone the vote after dismissing the “one-click” nature of thousands of comments from Minnesota citizens.  

“Minnesotans will be safer today because the Sentencing Guidelines Commission backed away from this misguided policy change,” said Jeff Van Nest, Policy Fellow for Public Safety at Center of the American Experiment. “We are glad the system worked, and the Commission listened to the thousands of Minnesotans who took the time to make their voice heard on this important public safety issue.”

The proposal being discussed would have eliminated custody status points from consideration for felony sentences. The Walz appointees on the Commission supported the plan to weaken sentences for felons if they commit more crimes while on probation or parole, or even if they’ve escaped custody. The plan would have lowered 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 would have disproportionally benefited the worst criminals in our system.

American Experiment initiated a call to action to provide public input for today’s meeting. 3,800 Minnesotans sent emails to the Commission urging members to reject the proposed changes. Here is the text of the message sent to the Commission:

Dear Sentencing Guidelines Commission:

I write to oppose the proposal to eliminate custody status points from consideration for felony sentences. This change will lower sentences across the board for convicted felons, especially sex offenders.

As the state deals with an unprecedented crime wave, the last thing we should be doing is letting violent offenders out of prison earlier. This proposal is contrary to the core mission of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission, protecting public safety.

The fact that someone is on probation or parole (or even escaped) when they commit another crime certainly should factor into their sentence. It’s only common sense. Please reject this one-size-fits-all solution that will make our state more dangerous.