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Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions
Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
Juvenile Sentencing for Heinous Crimes Commission
Also known as:
Commission on Juvenile Sentencing for Heinous Crimes
Active dates:2016 - 2017
The Commission was established to study Minnesota's heinous crimes act's relationship to recent United States Supreme Court decisions, and to make recommendations to the legislature regarding the factors that should be used to sentence juveniles who are convicted of crimes under the Heinous Crimes Act (see Minn. Stat. section 609.106), should the Legislature choose to retain the option of sentencing a juvenile to a life without the possibility of release.
This citizen commission was created in 2016 by Robin M. Wolpert, the 2016 president of the Minnesota State Bar Association. The commission's goal was to conduct a comprehensive study of juvenile homicide offender sentencing and rehabilitation, in part in response to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miller v. Alabama, which invalidated mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of release for juvenile homicide offenders. Based on this decision, and the 2016 decision Montgomery v. Louisiana, the commission stated that key portions of Minnesota’s Heinous Crimes Act (Minn. Stat. section 609.106) are unconstitutional as applied to juveniles.
Several Minnesota state legislators served on the commission. The commission met seven times between January and December 2017, conducting a comprehensive study of juvenile homicide offender sentencing and rehabilitation. It studied the history and development of juvenile Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, the response of the 50 states to Miller, the status of Minnesota’s offenders who were sentenced to life without the possibility of release as juveniles, the processes and procedures associated with trying juveniles as adults in Minnesota, the juvenile supervision system and criteria used to evaluate adult certification, the implications of neuroscience and adolescent brain development for juvenile sentencing and rehabilitation, and neuropsychological criteria for evaluating adult certification and rehabilitation. Their final report was issued in December 2017.
In 2017, the Minnesota State Bar Association adopted a legislative position accepting the final report of the Commission on Juvenile Sentencing for Heinous Crimes and recommending that the Minnesota Legislature take action consistent with the report.
This independent citizens group was composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds in law, politics, public safety, and academics.
Chairs: Judge Kathleen Gearin and John Kingrey. Members: Justice Paul Anderson (retired), Thomas Arneson, James Backstrom, Jean Burdorf, Judge Bradford Delapena, Senator Dan Hall, Senator Jeff Hayden, Representative John Lesch, Shelley McBride, Kelly Mitchell, Perry Moriearty, Representative Marion O’Neill, Dr. Dawn Peuchold, Professor Francis Shen, John Turnipseed, William Ward, and Robin Wolpert.
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