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S.F. No. 994 - Juvenile Justice Modifications (First Engrossment)
Author: Senator Ron Latz
Prepared By: Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
Date: March 11, 2015


Article 1 – Juvenile Proceedings

Section 1 amends the juvenile delinquency code’s purpose provision. Under current law, the purpose is to promote the public safety and reduce juvenile delinquency. This section changes that to “to promote the public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency.”

Section 2 addresses the use of restraints in juvenile delinquency proceedings. Defines “restraints.” Prohibits restraints from being used on a child appearing in court, unless the judge makes specified findings. Requires the judge to provide the child an opportunity to be heard before ordering the use of restraints. Requires the judge to make findings of fact in support of an order.

Section 3 authorizes peace officers to refer a child who is arrested or subject to arrest to a diversion program. Applies only to nonviolent offenses, and those for which the officer is not acting pursuant to a warrant or court order to take the child into custody.

Section 4 supersedes, to the extent it conflicts with section 2, a Minnesota Rule of Juvenile Procedure that, in part, addresses the use of restraints on children in juvenile delinquency proceedings.

Section 5 requires judicial districts to develop protocols to address how to implement and comply with section 2.

Article 2 – Sentences

Section 1 states the legislative findings and intent related to minimum sentences for juvenile offenders.

Sections 2 and 3 provide that inmates serving mandatory life sentences under sections 6 to 8 may be released after having served a minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Under current law, absent the changes made in these sections and sections 6 to 8, these offenders would serve life without release sentences. In addition, provide that juvenile offenders serving life sentences for crimes not involving life without release are eligible for release after serving a minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years, rather than 30 years.

Sections 4 and 5 amend the juvenile code’s adult certification law and extended jurisdiction juvenile law to provide that when a court is imposing an adult sentence under either of those sections, the court is not required to sentence the child under the terms of a mandatory minimum sentence that would otherwise be applicable to the offense.

Sections 6 and 7 amend the heinous crimes sentencing provision to require a court to sentence an offender who was a child at the time of commission of the offense to life with the possibility of release rather than life without release. (Under sections 2 and 3, the offender must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison before being eligible for release.)

Section 8 makes the same changes described in sections 6 and 7 to the sex offender life without release sentencing provision.

Section 9 makes the sentencing changes in this article effective immediately and provides that the changes apply retroactively to offenders sentenced to life without release before the effective date.

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