Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Sent to Prison Without Committing a New Crime? Community Asks County to End Practice


December 12, 2018

This Tuesday, December 11th community members will attend the Hennepin County Board Meeting in support of a motion to (1) reduce parole officer discretion to send people back to prison for crimeless “technical” violations of parole and (2) request the release of all individuals currently incarcerated on such violations to the County for the holidays. This action is hosted by a number of local community groups, collectively called the Decarcerate Minnesota Coalition.

A technical violation is a petty violation of parole that is not in itself a new crime. Examples of these violations range from missing a meeting, failing to find or losing housing or employment, or deviating from the schedule given to one’s parole officer that morning without an immediate phone call to check in. Many of those violated are on Minnesota’s Intensive Supervised Release program, or ISR.

As Joseph* explains on the podcast “Stories from the Inside: Rolling Us Out and Right Back In” produced by Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, “70% of people on ISR get violated for technical violations and get sent back to prison because you’re not where you say you’re gonna be, or you didn’t call in the second you got to where you were going, or god forbid, things are happening when you get to work and you end up calling a half an hour late instead of calling as soon as you walk in the door”.

In 2016, two-thirds of new admissions to Minnesota state prisons were sent back on a technical violation of probation or parole. Decarcerate MN believes the practice of sending people back to prison on technical violations contributes to prison overcrowding in Minnesota, does irreparable harm to Minnesota families and their incarcerated loved ones, and is an irresponsible use of the state budget.

Eddie Sole Jr., a member of the Coalition states, “We are an organization that represents many people who have been incarcerated due to technical violations. Events such as these create detrimental qualities of life for the ones affected. This is one of many examples of where changes need to take place, the kind of change that contributes to a more positive solution to society’s issues, rather than the opposite.”

The Vera Institute of Justice estimates the cost of incarceration to be $41,366 per person annually - a figure leading to millions of dollars that the Decarcerate Minnesota Coalition believes would be better spent helping the families and communities most affected by mass incarceration to thrive.

Tuesday’s action is well supported by the community, with the Facebook Event page garnering over 500 event responses.

* name has been changed to protect anonymity


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