Everyone deserves a second chance

Even through a snowstorm, dozens of citizens came to the Minnesota State Capitol to take part in Second Chance Day on the Hill. The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition is a bipartisan non-profit consisting of hundreds of non-profit member organizations and individuals. The group strongly advocates for second chances for persons who have been punished for crimes so they can earn the opportunity to live, work, and grow to be fully contributing members of their communities.

Their work advocates for fair hiring, housing, voting, sentencing practices, and ensuring that everyone is treated equally and fairly in the criminal justice system. They are also working to ensure juveniles involved in the justice system are not limited in their ability to become successful adults.

Their 2019 priorities include:

Eliminating the debt-to-jail trap of fines and fees for low income individuals

Fines and fees from traffic and low-level criminal violations strip assets from low income communities, especially communities of color. Individuals who lack the assets to pay a ticket in full and on time experience an escalation of consequences, including late fees, collection fees, and driver’s license suspensions, which can create a debt-to-jail trap for many people.

Reducing Minnesota’s felony probation periods 

The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition supports amending our current law to impose a five-year cap on felony probation for non-sex offenses and an eight-year cap on cases where the sentencing guidelines recommend prison but the court instead imposes probation. Minnesota courts impose some of the longest probation periods in the country. Effective probation terms can both prevent future crime and foster individual growth for probations. It is important to strike a balance between these competing interests when establishing appropriate probation terms.

Restoring voting rights for people who have served their prison sentences

The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition believes that people working and paying taxes in their communities should be able to vote for their elected officials. Currently, Minnesotans do not regain the right to vote when they’ve finished serving their prison time. Only once they’ve finished lengthy periods of supervision, often decades in duration, can they participate in our democracy and teach their children civic responsibility.