Minnesota’s Justice Reinvestment Legislation Results in Improvements to Community Supervision System
By CSG Justice Center
In May 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a public safety omnibus bill into law, which is designed to increase public safety and improve community supervision. The bill includes policy changes that were informed by Minnesota’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which the state embarked on in 2021 with technical support from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Three key challenges were identified in Minnesota:
- Funding across supervision delivery systems, counties, and Tribes was not effective or equitable.As a result, counties were disproportionately responsible for supervision funding leaving local agencies without the resources to consistently implement evidence-based practices and meet the needs of people on supervision.
- Black and Native American people are overrepresented in Minnesota’s probation and prison systems.
- Probation violations and supervised release returns account for nearly two-thirds of prison admissions.
SF 2909 contains multiple public safety provisions including many community supervision reforms that stemmed from the JRI process:
- This law creates a new funding formula to ensure that all counties and Tribal Nations across the state receive stable, equitable funding for community corrections. As part of the new funding formula, the state will increase its annual investment in community supervision by $43.6 million. This will empower counties and Tribes to make supervision decisions based on local public safety and community needs and ensure that all necessary services are appropriately funded. The new autonomy given to Tribes presents an opportunity to address some of the underlying issues leading to disparate outcomes for Native American people under supervision.
- The law establishes a Community Supervision Advisory Committee whose scope of work will include developing statewide consistency related to supervision standards and definitions, risk and needs assessment tools, an incentives and sanctions grid, case plans, performance indicators for supervision success, and a statewide training and quality assurance system overseen by an evidence-based practices coordinator. These changes will ensure that Minnesota’s community corrections system is rooted in evidence-based best practices that will enhance public safety.
- The committee will also provide recommendations regarding narrowly tailoring supervision conditions to an individual’s needs, providing gender-responsive, culturally appropriate services and trauma-informed approaches, devising a plan to eliminate the financial penalty incurred by a jurisdiction upon successful discharge of an individual from supervision, and establishing a state-level Community Supervision Advisory Board. These changes will allow Minnesota to better address drivers of crime and recidivism and enable communities that have been disproportionately impacted by scarce and inadequate resources to tailor supervision to the specific, historically unmet needs of their population.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-ZB-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.