Walz appointees seek to dramatically weaken felony sentences

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission is a sleepy little agency with a very important job — they determine the presumptive sentences for felony offenses committed in Minnesota. From their website:

The purpose of the Sentencing Guidelines is to establish rational and consistent sentencing standards that promote public safety, reduce sentencing disparity, and ensure that the sanctions imposed for felony convictions are proportional to the severity of the conviction offense and the offender’s criminal history

The presumptive sentences are displayed in a grid that is used by judges to determine the appropriate sentence once someone is convicted of a felony.

The y-axis on the grid refers to the severity level of the crime, from low-level assault (1) all the way to murder (11). The x-axis refers to the criminal history score of the perpetrator. Your criminal history score currently includes points for:

  • Prior felonies
  • Custody status at the time of the offense (probation or parole)
  • Prior misdemeanors
  • Previous juvenile matters
  • Convictions in jurisdictions other than Minnesota

As points mount up for criminal history, the sentence moves across the grid and months are added to the sentence.

On Dec. 16, 2021, the Sentencing Guidelines Commission will vote on a proposal to eliminate custody status points from consideration for felony sentences. 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.

  1. Sign the above petition and send your message to the Commission before the vote.
  2. Attend the public meeting at 1:00 pm on December 16th and voice your opposition to this change in person. Click here for more details.

Walz appointees leading the charge

While most of Minnesota is reeling from an unprecedented wave of lawlessness, the people in charge of sentencing criminals are going the opposite direction.

Tim Walz appointee Tonya Honsey had this to say about reducing sentences: “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.” In other words, the public safety of the criminals.

Honsey describes herself as a revolutionary mother, a truth-teller, a survivor of incarceration and a community healer. She is also Minnesota’s version of Racheal Dolezal, fraudulently representing herself as a Native American (Lt. Gov. Flannagan — please call your office). She has been widely discredited by the most liberal groups in Minnesota, including being fired by the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

Commissioner member Michelle Larkin, a member of the Minnesota Court of Appeals made passionate and reasoned arguments against the change, saying “I am concerned that reducing sentences across the board is going to compromise public safety.”

Dakota County Judge David Knutson agreed, saying, “We clearly haven’t got their attention” if a criminal commits another crime while on probation.

There is supposed to be a crime victim representative on the commission, but Gov. Walz dragged his feet over the summer making that appointment, so victims’ voices were not represented.

Law enforcement also has a designated seat on the commission, but the current representative, Brooke Blakey, offered no opinion. Blakey, by the way, is on administrative leave from her job as chief of staff for the Metro Transit Police Department for her involvement with a volunteer community program.

Walz appointee Commissioner Paul Schnell, of course, made a predictable appeal to progressive criminal justice reform, citing studies that show longer prison sentences don’t lead to greater public safety. This ignores the simple argument that getting criminals off the streets at least protects Minnesotans while they are in prison, whether they rehabilitate or not.

The commission voted 6-4 to move the proposal to eliminate custody status points from sentencing. Here are the members of the commission and how they voted:


  • Kelly Lyn Mitchell, Chair and Public Member
  • Valerie Estrada, Vice-Chair and Corrections Unit Supervisor, Hennepin County Community Corrections & Rehabilitation
  • Brooke Blakey, Metro Transit Police Captain
  • Tonja Honsey, Public Member
  • Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender
  • Paul Schnell, Commissioner of Corrections


  • David Knutson, First Judicial District Court Judge
  • Kyra Ladd, Wadena County Attorney
  • Michelle A. Larkin, Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge
  • Gordon L. Moore, III, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice

There is a huge disconnect between the people of Minnesota and leaders like those on the Sentencing Guidelines Commission about public safety. The Walz appointees are driving this change and outnumber the reasonable voices of those in the trenches.  

Click here to watch the discussion that produced this recommendation, but keep your blood pressure medicine handy.