The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition advocates for fair and responsible laws that allow those who have committed crimes to redeem themselves, fully support themselves and their families, and contribute to their communities to their full potential.

2011 Legislative Policy Agenda

Find your legislator to contact them about supporting these reforms by going to the Minnesota District Finder: Minnesota District Finder

1. Restore right to vote for felons living in the community.

Minnesota denies the right to vote for anyone convicted of a felony and is on probation, supervised release (parole) or is incarcerated. Restoring the right to vote for ex-offenders living in the community will maximize their ability to contribute, increase participation in our democracy, and make our communities safer. For more information click here.

2. Expand Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Records.

In 2009 Minnesota became one of the first states to require all public employers to remove questions about criminal records from employment applications. This is a policy reform that can be safely applied to private employers. Read and download the Minnesota Hiring Advantage Fact Sheet here: Minnesota Hiring Advantage Fact Sheet (PDF)

3. Limit access to juvenile records.

While most people believe that juvenile records are and should be private and very limited in their long-term impact, current law creates a number of situations where juvenile records are public and/or limit the ability of the child to be employed in certain fields for many years or even the rest of their lives.
The Sentencing Project Endorses House File 876
Juvenile Public Court Hearings (PDF)
16-17 year old Public Records Summary (PDF)

4. Expand the types of criminal records that are eligible for sealing.

Under current law it is very difficult even for individuals who have received stays of adjudication or been put into diversion programs to ever have all records of the case sealed. Minnesota needs a reasonable process for people to overcome the barriers associated with their criminal records.

5. Limit sexual offender registration for juveniles.

Current juvenile sex offender law does not adequately account for the differences between juveniles and adults and often results in the unnecessary stigmatizing of juvenile offenders for the rest of their lives. Juvenile offenders do not present the same risks as adults who commit sex crimes, particularly when the charges are based solely on a difference in age. Requiring registration and tracking for these cases overly burdens resources that are needed for the most serious offenders.

Policy Paper

6. Require racial impact statements for new criminal justice legislation.

The racial disparities that currently exist in our criminal justice system may have been prevented if legislators had the data that is already available to understand the racial impact the legislation might have.

Policy Brief: Racial Impact Statements

Testimony on SF3326, April 14 2010

7. Increase opportunities for ex-offender housing.

Finding housing is often the most difficult part of successful reentry, and in some cases leads to return to prison for that reason alone. Public safety is greatly enhanced through stable housing.

8. Preserve impartial courts.

The Second Chance Coalition is a member of the Coalition for Impartial Justice and supports legislation that preserves Minnesota?s tradition of impartial justice through merit selection, judicial evaluations, and retention elections. Coalition for Impartial Justice

9. Reform Department of Human Services background studies.

Current Licensing laws unduly limit access to gainful employment for thousands of Minnesotans and need to be reformed in a number of ways.

10. Reduce sentences for drug crimes.

Minnesota has some of the harshest controlled substance sentences in the Midwest and can safely reduce sentences to bring us in line with other states.

11. Limit the adverse impact of the criminal justice system on children and families.

The Second Chance Coalition supports any legislation that decreases the potentially harmful impact of the criminal justice system on children and families.

12. Fully diagnose and treat mental illness and chemical addiction.

The Second Chance Coalition supports any legislation that prevents crime and reduces recidivism through access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Policy Paper

13. Address the unique contributions and needs of combat veterans.

Especially with the large number of veterans returning from combat in recent years, particular attention must be made to addressing the unique needs and recognition of those who serve our country through military service.

Policy Paper

14. End unfair representation due to prison-based census counts.

Currently, the census bureau counts prisoners where they are incarcerated rather than where they resided prior to incarceration, and Minnesota uses those numbers in creating voting districts, even though it violates the Minnesota constitution and prisoners are not allowed to vote. This process violates our principles of democracy by creating unequal representation.

Learn more from SCC partner the Prison Policy Initiative

Policy brief on the impact of prison gerrymander on American Indians

15. Family Reunification Act of 2011.

In 6% of MN child protection cases children are placed outside of their homes because of an incarcerated parent. When parents are unavailable to be reunified with their children parental rights may be terminated. The Family Reunification Act is a proposed remedy to allow children to reunify with a recovered parent when they are able to care for the day to day needs of a child. This option would be made available if the child has not been adopted and is still lingering in the child protection system without a permanent home. Please help the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis, Youth Law Project with this effort in the coming Legislative Session.

Family Reunification Act of 2011

Final Fact Sheet

16. Increase the use of Restorative Justice.

A substantial body of research in both the US and abroad demonstrates that restorative justice is a cost effective, evidence based practice that aids the criminal justice system in meeting victims' needs, aiding offenders in taking responsibility for their actions and becoming productive members of society, reducing recidivism, and involving the community in justice issues.