Minnesota has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the country, yet almost 40 percent of those exiting our state prisons will be convicted of another felony in just three years. This rate has stayed relatively consistent over the past decade. We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
We must seek to incentivize — not inhibit — the success of those seeking a second chance. These proposals do that. They focus on eliminating both unnecessary barriers to opportunity and unnecessary interactions with law enforcement. They help focus law enforcement’s role to protect and serve, not dilute their mission by asking them to collect debts or raise revenues.
We’ve made some important progress on these issues — nationally with the prison reforms included in the First Step Act, and with the passage of policing reforms here in Minnesota last summer. The first step is undoubtedly the hardest to take, but legislators shouldn’t be content to stop there. We have a long way to go toward respecting the human dignity and constitutional rights of all our citizens.