Sentencing Project

The primary goal of our Sentencing Project is to have the best interests of children considered when their caregivers are being sentenced. We have taken a number of steps to make progress toward this goal:

  • We have held several 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—to teach lawyers, clerks, and judges about the law plus share research on the harms of parental incarceration and the benefits alternatives
  • Going forward, we plan to continue holding training sessions and disseminating information to lawyers, judges, and others involved with the justice system throughout the state

We have created several resources for attorneys and judges to consider before sentencing a parent in a criminal proceeding. Those resources include an analysis of the relevant law, a sentencing checklist, a report on the harms of parental incarceration, and a short form version of the report, a brief summary of literature describing the benefits of alternatives to incarceration. We also have authorized a comprehensive law review article that addresses laws related sentencing of parents and caregivers, the harms of parental incarceration, and the need to consider the best interests of the child when parents and other caregivers are sentenced.