2022 Quarter 3 | The Council of State Governments (CSG) | Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC)

MLC Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee Newsletter

Co-Chair North Dakota Rep. Shannon Roers Jones

Co-Chair Illinois Sen. Robert Peters
Vice Chair Nebraska Sen. John McCollister

Upcoming Events

*All times are Central Time

December 7-10:

2022 CSG National Conference - Honolulu, HI

December 8:

Webinar: CSG Justice Center: Creative Solutions and Opportunities to Address the National Juvenile Justice System Staffing Crisis - 12:00*

July 9-12, 2023:

77th Annual Meeting of the MLC - Detroit, MI

August 18-22, 2023:

28th Annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD) - Madison, WI

Committee Happenings

This belated edition of the quarterly newsletter for the MLC Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee will serve as a post-election analysis and look at some of the criminal justice measures that were on the ballot this year in Midwestern states for the 2022 midterms. 

By a margin of 62% to 38%, voters in Kansas have overwhelmingly chosen to adopt a measure that will amend the state constitution in order to require county sheriffs to be an elected position statewide. The measure will also grant voters the ability to recall sheriffs, and for the state attorney general to remove sheriffs via a writ of quo warranto. 

According to reporting by the Topeka Capital-Journal, counties that currently do not have a sheriff position (i.e., Riley County) would be allowed to continue to operate sheriff-less, but if they someday transition to having an elected sheriff, the county could not transition back. Passage of the measure also preempts any county consideration of transitioning to an appointed sheriff system. 

The ballot measure was the result of the state legislature passing HCR 5022 this year.

By a margin of 78% to 22%, voters in Ohio overwhelmingly approved a measure that will amend the state constitution in order to require judges to consider public safety factors when determining monetary bail amounts. The measure followed a recent state supreme court ruling that public safety considerations should not be relevant when determining what amount of bail money will incentivize a defendant to appear in court.

For additional context about the Ohio ballot measure and the various debates Midwestern states had on cash bail this year, check out this cover article that appeared in Stateline Midwest.

The ballot measure was the result of the state legislature passing HJR 2 this year.

By a margin of 65% to 35%, voters in Iowa have overwhelmingly passed a measure to enshrine a right to bear arms in the state constitution. Unlike the second amendment in the U.S. Constitution, Iowa's new measure includes language that any restrictions to this right would be subject to "strict scrutiny".

According to reporting by the Des Moines Register, "strict scrutiny is the highest legal hurdle for legislation to clear. It requires any restrictions on gun rights to be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest." Opponents of the measure argue this change will now make it more difficult to pass subsequent gun control measures in the state.

The ballot measure was the result of the state legislature passing SJR 18 in 2019 and SJR 7 in 2021.

CSG Justice Center Updates

The following are updates on some of the CSG Justice Center's ongoing projects in Midwestern states.

Iowa (Justice Reinvestment Initiative)

In October, the Iowa Oversight Committee on Justice Reinvestment met for the final time to review the results of an assessment of recommendations for the state's community supervision practices.

Some of the recommendations identify administrative-level changes; others require legislative action.

For more information about this project and its findings, click HERE

Michigan (Taskforce on Juvenile Justice Reform):

The taskforce recently approved a list of recommendations to improve the state's juvenile justice system thanks in part to support and expertise provided by the CSG Justice Center.

Among the 32 recommendations are a commitment to expand diversion opportunities for youths, increase funding for community-based programs, strengthen standards, and create a statewide advisory board.

For more information about this project, click HERE

Minnesota (Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program):

Using the principles outlined in the Stepping Up Initiative, the CSG Justice Center provided technical assistance to three counties across the country looking to discuss mental health strategies for justice-involved individuals. One of those counties was Carlton County, Minnesota.

The county wanted to explore options to both expand diversion programs and secure additional funding. The Justice Center also recommended the county incorporate culturally specific services tailored for Native American offenders. The collaboration led to the county becoming a Stepping Up Innovator County.

For more information about this project, click HERE

Criminal Justice News

Wisconsin County to Launch Community Court Pilot Program

Thanks to a $600,000 federal grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Dane County (which includes the city of Madison) will fund a four-year pilot program to divert low-level offenders from incarceration.

The community court model will be based in part on the Brooklyn-based Red Hook Community Justice Center. Since 2000, the center consolidates different types of cases under one roof (a refurbished Catholic school instead of a courthouse) and one judge. In lieu of incarceration, the judge orders community restitution projects, enrollment in drug treatment, and participation in peacemaking sessions. Since 2015, when Dane County officials had a chance to visit the New York center, there has been an effort to bring a similar program to Wisconsin.

Although the Dane County community court will more than likely not have its own in-house judge like the Red Hook program, the program will be able to utilize judges and prosecutors currently operating in the local community.

For more information, check out the linked article by Channel 3000.

Ohio Proposal Seeks to Require Jails and Prisons to Provide Menstrual Products

After becoming aware of reports of a lack of menstrual products in state prisons, Rep. Latyna Humphrey introduced a bill (HB 743) that would require the state to provide said products in jails and prisons and to implement policies that would not restrict access based on race, sex, gender identity, income status, degree of charge, or disability status.

Although the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says these products are available to offenders for free, state law does not explicitly require correctional facilities to carry said products.

For more information, check out the linked article by the Ohio Capitol Journal.

Nebraska Lawmakers Intend to Make List of Problematic Law Enforcement Officers Public

Following repeated defeats in the 2021 and 2022 sessions, Sen. Terry McKinney and Sen. Justin Wayne are hoping to pass a proposal next year that would publicize a list of police officers who have a history of misconduct or who have previously lied while under oath.

The lawmakers are using the precedent set in the U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland (1963) a ruling which requires prosecutors to share with the defense a list of non-credible police officers when relevant to justify their initiative and to confront the phenomena of non-credible officers continuing to serve and be promoted outside of public knowledge.

Opponents argue the initiative would only serve to embarrass officers without providing necessary context.

For more information, check out the linked article by the Lincoln Journal Star.

South Dakota County Finds Success with a Native American Influenced Community Court

Known as the Oyate Court, a collaboration between the Pennington County (which includes Rapid City) state's attorney's office and the Lakota Nation allows for Indigenous offenders of nonviolent, low-level offenses to seek a diversion from incarceration.

Operating in the area since last spring, the court emphasizes rehabilitation techniques based in Native American traditions of peacemaking including sessions on accountability, forgiveness, and apologizing for one's actions. Full compliance with a diversion program can result in an offender's charges being dropped and their record expunged.

For more information, check out the linked article by the Guardian.

Thank you for reading. Watch for the next edition in

December 2022.

Missed a newsletter? Past issues are archived on the committee's webpage.
Please do not reproduce or create new content from this material without the prior express written permission of CSG Midwest.
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