When caregivers are being sentenced, their children’s best interests should be considered.

CIC’s sentencing advocacy promotes the consideration of family relationships when a parent or other caregiver is sentenced in a criminal proceeding. To highlight the importance of evaluating family relationships prior to sentencing, CIC has developed resources and provided programs for lawyers, judges, and others working in the criminal legal system. 

CIC has created a six-part podcast Considering the Parental Role at Sentencing that highlights the need to consider the impact of parental incarceration on the family prior to the sentencing of a parent. CIC Board Member and Assistant Hennepin County Public Defender Michael Holland hosts this program, focusing on how and why family connections should be a part of sentencing decisions in cases involving parents and caregivers or minor children. Guests include: Director of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Program Barbara Frey; Fredrikson & Byron criminal defense attorney Dulce Foster; retired Minnesota District Court judge Mark Wernick; Assistant Duluth City Attorney Ethan Scrivner; University of Minnesota Medical School assistant professor and a lead researcher on parental incarceration Dr. Rebecca Shlafer; and CIC researcher Meg Hinson. This series has been approved for four continuing legal education credits in Minnesota.

CIC has held training sessions at the Criminal Justice Institute, Hennepin County Public Defender’s office, Minnesota Chief Public Defender’s meeting, the United States District Court’s In-Court Seminar, and the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Through these presentations, CIC generates discussion among lawyers and judges about the laws on considering family relationships as a sentencing factor. CIC also shares research on the harms of parental incarceration and the benefits of alternative community-based programs.

CIC will host an annual continuing legal education program on parental incarceration, focusing on developments in the law, the latest social science research, and promising alternatives to parental incarceration. Upon request, CIC will facilitate on-site presentations for those working in the criminal legal system who are interested in issues related to parental incarceration.