Tim Pawlenty - Governorship - Crime


Crime in Minnesota was a high-profile political issue during Pawlenty's governorship. When crime rates in Minneapolis spiked 16 percent from 2004 to 2005, city officials blamed Pawlenty for large cuts to state aid, which they said restricted public safety resources. Pawlenty in turn criticized the capital city for poorly allocating its funding.

Pawlenty made two large efforts to expand penalties for sexual offenders. In response to his first proposal in 2005, the state legislature passed a large package of sentencing reforms. One new instrument was the possibility of a life sentence without parole for serious offenders, although Pawlenty expressed disapproval at the courts' reluctance to use this option: only seven individuals received such a sentence in the first two years of implementation. Pawlenty made a push for even harsher sentences in 2010, which increased the presumptive sentence for first-degree sex offenses from 12 years to 25 years and increased it further for repeat offenders. At the same time he advocated for a $90-million expansion of the state's civil commitment program for sexual offenders, maintaining that the increased criminal sentences would keep the commitment program's cost under control. According to a single report in the Star Tribune, "A report on Minnesota's sex-offender program delivered to legislators in the final days of the Pawlenty administration was heavily edited by a top political appointee to reflect the former governor's skepticism about the effectiveness of treatment and to delete arguments for expanded community resources for offenders."

Early in 2006, after issuing a study that estimated the cost of illegal immigration to the state as approximately $188 million, Pawlenty announced a program for changing the way the state dealt with persons who were in the United States illegally. Pawlenty said that the economic benefits of illegal immigration did not justify the illegal behavior. Pawlenty's extensive proposal included the designation of 10 state law enforcement officials as the Minnesota Illegal Immigration Enforcement Team, "trained to question, detain and arrest suspected illegal immigrants" with a focus on "such crimes as human trafficking, identity theft, methamphetamine distribution and terrorism." He rounded out his proposal with tougher penalties for false identification, and instituting a fine of up to $5,000 for employers of illegal immigrants. His proposal was challenged by DFL senators who preferred increased legal immigration to punitive action.

Read more about this topic:  Tim Pawlenty, Governorship

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