The Minnesota Legislature passed changes to its probation system last week that would make it five years for most crimes, and would run retroactively, meaning those with longer sentences would be eligible for reduced sentences.
This will be welcome news to Minnesotans serving long prison terms, like Jennifer Schroeder. Because history Schroeder’s case earlier this year in an investigation into problems with probation systems across the country. Schroeder was sentenced in 2013 to one year in prison for a drug violation—and 40 years of probation. As it stands, he won’t be probated until he turns 71, in October 2053.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone,” Schroeder said Because“even people who kill other people or beat or burn, or any other crime I can think of, have such a long sentence.”
Law, section a big omnibus bill, establishes a five-year probationary period established in 2020 by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission. Now, Schroeder and other Minnesotans serving more than five years in prison will be eligible for parole.
At the time Schroeder was sentenced, Minnesota allowed probationary sentences to go up to the maximum prison sentence you could receive for the crime. His case was very difficult, but it showed both the problems with the government system and the depth of the experiment itself.
Schroeder, who graduated from college and became a drug and alcohol counselor, testified in support of the law earlier this year. “The [number of] “People breaking the law and being sent back to jail is amazing,” he said he said in the hearing committee. “And the fear that you have if you’re on trial and you’re doing the right thing is still something that affects me every day.”
Probation has quietly evolved into the largest correctional system in the country. According to Bureau of Justice Statisticsof the 5.5 million adults in the US who were under some form of control at the end of 2020, more than half – 3,053,700 people – were on probation.
The original purpose of Probation was to help people get back into their lives without punishment while living with a crime, but in many countries, it has become another form of punishment that makes criminals fail. For example, Idaho has a very high rate of people being admitted to prison for probation and parole violations. According to a report last year from the Idaho Department of Correction, 80 percent of those admitted in 2021 were parole or probation violators.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune report last year on how a lengthy probation program for young offenders turned into a “back door to prison,” including juveniles in adult prisons for probation violations.
In addition to the many laws and conditions that probationers must follow, in order to avoid being sent back to prison, they also lose many civil rights, such as the right to own a gun and the right to vote.
But other countries are trying to get rid of their bloated, ineffective birth control systems. Earlier this year, Gov. of Democratic Minnesota, Tim Walz too signed the bill into law restoring the right to vote to people on probation and parole, which also affected about 55,000 people in the state.