Senate DFLers see bills to improve corrections system materialize

Senate DFLers have fought for years to improve conditions in our corrections systems, particularly for pregnant people living in incarceration, and to assist in successful reintegration for those being released to their community after incarceration.

Two bills heard this week would move that hard-fought work forward. The first bill, known as the Healthy Start Act, allows people who are pregnant or who have recently given birth to be placed in a community alternative to incarceration, to allow for bonding between the parent and newborn.

The second bill aims to set up soon-to-be and recently released individuals for success, by ensuring they have the proper identifying documents – such as social security cards – and access to prescribed medications while they get back on their feet. This is meant to reduce recidivism and ensure that individuals don’t end up back in incarceration because they were set up to fail upon release.

Both bills moved closer to final passage, and with support in the House as well these bills have a strong chance of becoming law this session.

While Republicans may have authored these bills, the credit for the leg work goes to the Senate DFLers that have been working on this type of legislation for years. Senate Republicans are rather new to the idea that our corrections system should be focused on rehabilitation and reducing recidivism rather than pure punishment, and they are still rather reluctant to look at legislation that would reduce incarceration numbers and address the systemic racism built into our corrections system, such as expungement for non-violent drug crimes or eliminating cash bail.

Senate DFLers will continue our work in addressing the racism in our criminal justice and policing systems and in our fight for a system that focuses on redemption and second chances. (SF 1315SF 519)