Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Kelly Mitchell Testifies At MN Legislature Against Bill That Seeks To Require Legislative Oversight Over MN Sentencing Commission

The Robina Institute's Executive Director Kelly Mitchell testified in front of the Minnesota State Legislature on Thursday, March 9th against a Republican-led proposal to effectively reduce or remove decision-making authority from the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

The Star Tribune reports, "If the measure becomes law, the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission would need to get approval from the Legislature before making any changes to the state’s sentencing framework, which judges rely on to calculate punishments based on an offender’s crime and history. The commission would turn into something closer to an advisory board to the Legislature — rather than a panel making independent decisions."

During her testimony Mitchell explained that the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Position was intentionally formed as an independent agency composed of criminal justice experts. The legislature serves as a brake on its proposals through the "legislative override" function, she said.  

“If the Legislature is dissatisfied with the changes [proposed by the MN Sentencing Guidelines Commission], it can enact a law,” she said. “The enacted law can take any action deemed appropriate by the Legislature, including blocking the change from taking effect.”

Mitchell's testimony is quoted both in the Star Tribune and in Minnesota Lawyer. Prior to her position at the Robina Institute she was the Executive Director of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

You can read the coverage of this issue in the Star Tribunehere, and in Minnesota Lawyerhere