2022 Quarter 1 | 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
March 18:

March 24:

April 5:

April 6:

April 8:

April 12:

April 19:

April 20:

April 26:

April 27:

April 29:

May 13:

July 10-13:

August 26-30:

August 27-31:

December 7-10:
Committee Happenings
Greetings once again members of the MLC Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee. This quarter's newsletter is coming out a bit earlier than usual because we recognize 2022 schedules will be unique this year. For some, this newsletter will find you near the end of your legislative session, if it hasn't concluded already. For those of you seeking re-election in a post-redistricting contest, 2022 may also mean having to introduce yourself to new voters. Therefore, we wanted to highlight right away some of the exciting programming the Council of State Governments-Midwest has planned.

First, we want to again extend an invitation to participate in our upcoming webinar series hosted by our new Forum on Social Justice. The kickoff session will be happening next Friday, March 18 at 10:00 Central Time. The session will provide a general overview of criminal justice data and policy in the Midwest and its relation to racial and social justice. The session will also include a presentation by the CSG Justice Center. Other sessions during this series will touch on issues relating to equity in education and healthcare.

To register for next week's session, please click HERE, one of the links in the left-hand textbox, or visit csgmidwest.org. Another session dealing with criminal justice issues will bookmark this webinar series on May 13, with more of a focus on policing policy. To register for that event, click HERE or visit our website.

Meanwhile, registration is now open for this year's CSG-Midwest Annual Conference. MLC Chair Carolyn McGinn is working diligently to make this year's conference in Wichita, Kansas full of engaging programming, networking opportunities, and thoughtful workshops. For this committee, one of our sessions will partner with the MLC Health & Human Services Committee to explore mental health treatment in the criminal justice system that doesn't involve incarceration.

For more information about the conference and how to register, please click HERE or visit our website. Early-bird registration discounts will be available until May 9.

Finally, it's that time again where we are collecting applications for our leadership training retreat for new legislators, BILLD. Applications are due soon on April 20. For more information, click HERE or visit our website.
CSG Justice Center Updates
This edition will highlight some of the Midwestern projects the Justice Center has recently helped to provide assistance to and develop.

Minnesota (Justice Reinvestment Initiative):
For the last several months, the Minnesota Governor's Council on Justice Reinvestment has been meeting and working with the Justice Center to address policy issues related to criminal sentencing and supervised release. According to a presentation highlighted in one of these taskforce meetings, "The goal is to achieve a Minnesota supervision system that is effective, equitable, and adequately resourced across counties that are extremely different."

Justice Center staffers were charged with collecting and analyzing relevant data sources, interviewing stakeholders, and developing a consensus on policy recommendations. A final report was submitted to the state legislature in early February.

For more information about this project, click HERE

Iowa (Justice Reinvestment Initiative)
Through participation with not only the Justice Center, but also the Bureau of Justice Assistance and Pew Charitable Trusts, researchers will assist Iowa in evaluating how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their criminal justice system, and whether policy changes in supervised release processes were a net positive or negative to overall public safety. The Justice Center in particular will provide technical assistance support which includes data collection and stakeholder engagement.

An official launch for the project was held in February of this year. The Justice Center's "Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee" will meet and help develop policy recommendations, with plans to submit their final report to Iowa policymakers sometime this summer.

For more information about this project, click HERE

Indiana (Improving Outcomes for Youth)
Since 2020, the Justice Center has been working with Indiana's Commission on Improving the Status of Children to provide policy recommendations regarding the state's juvenile justice system. Last fall, the Commission launched the Juvenile Justice Reform Taskforce, wherein the Justice Center worked alongside state lawmakers to provide technical assistance and data collection support. The group's efforts collimated into a final report released last December.

For more information about this project, click HERE
Criminal Justice News
Indiana Wants to Make Compensating Wrongly-Convicted People Easier
In 2019, Indiana lawmakers created a pathway that allowed for people who were wrongfully incarcerated to receive financial restitution $50,000 for each year they spent behind bars. The legislation, however, failed to stipulate what legal standard applicants must meet to demonstrate their proof of innocence.

HB 1283 would institute a low-bar "preponderance of evidence" standard. The hope is that it will help to reduce the amount of court time and stress an innocent person needs to undergo in order to receive compensation. The proposal also stipulated someone who was wrongfully imprisoned but later convicted for an unrelated crime would be ineligible for payment.

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

South Dakota Lawmakers Want to Make Hazing a Crime
Were SB 72 to pass both chambers and be signed into law, South Dakota would become the 45th state to classify hazing on college campuses and other locations as a criminal offense. The class of felony would depend upon a person's intentionality in committing acts of hazing and whether their actions lead to bodily harm.

Proponents argue this change would help to prevent instances of extreme mental stress, serious injury, and even death. Opponents, however, argue existing criminal code makes the proposal redundant, or point out that people willingly engage in activities considered hazing.
For more information, check out the linked article by South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

An Infamous Juvenile Detention Center in Wisconsin may Soon be Replaced
It has been four years since Wisconsin legislators first voted to close down a juvenile detention center which reported multiple complaints of guards displaying overtly aggressive behaviors toward offenders and other instances of neglect. An original deadline to close the facility by 2021 was extended and eventually missed.

However, lawmakers are now close to passing a proposal that would allocate money for a replacement facility. Meanwhile, there are other ongoing efforts to place troubled youth in facilities closer to their communities and loved ones.
For more information, check out the linked article by Wisconsin Public Radio.

Kansas Lawmakers are Seeking to Redesign the Civil Asset Forfeiture Process
A proposal in the Kansas legislature would restrict law enforcement from confiscating a person's assets they believe to be connected to criminal activity until after the person has been found guilty. Another proposal would bar seizures of items and vehicles worth less than $200 and $2000, respectively.

Proponents of the measure raised examples of assets being confiscated by law enforcement before a suspect has been charged, or never being returned even after acquittal. Various law enforcement groups, however, claimed a large portion of civil asset forfeitures in Kansas are associated with drug trades and cash meant for drug mules transporting controlled substances into the state. Other opponents have argued said forfeitures go to fund official law enforcement operations.

For more information, check out the linked article by the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Thank you for reading. Watch for the next edition in June 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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