In the Spotlight

News & Features
Mark Dayton: Crime
By Karen Boothe
September 1, 1998

Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK, LAW ENFORCEMENT and criminal justice officials told a Senate panel that reducing youth violence will require more than jail cells and tough sentences. Senators were told that early intervention is key, but in order to accomplish it, there must be more money for resources.

Mark Dayton's proposed attack on crime does just that. He proposes expanding the criminal justice system with more police officers, parole officers, and judges. He also would expand the criminal division of the attorney general's office, and build more jail space, too. His campaign platform also calls for crime prevention programs geared at youth.

Dayton: We need to mean it, and show that we mean it, and get the word out across the streets of Minnesota and this country that the worst place to be to engage in criminal activity is Minnesota; not because we say it, but because we mean it, and the consequences of doing so are sure and severe.
Dayton says he'd advocate stricter sentencing guidelines and greater adherence to them - expecially for juvenile offenders.
Dayton: Right now we have a five year sentence for commission of a gun on a felony offense, and it's plea bargained away all over. I am told the juveniles know they can be caught carrying a gun, and they walk into the police office and right out minutes later, and nothing happens.
Dayton wants to beef up a statewide gang task force and propose more programs geared at kids. A key proposal of his is to keep schools open from 7 in the morning to seven in the evening - giving students a place to spend their time. He says it will mean hiring more after-school counselors and bringing in mentors and coaches.
Dayton: Sometimes you don't have a choice. You've got a social crisis which requires you to do something, and we're going to have to face up to the fact that we have a social crisis in Minnesota. We have gangs in St. James and Grand Rapids and parts of The state that have never seen any of that activity, which local law enforcement officials are being totally overrun, and the county attorneys are not equipped to deal with it, and if we don't take this on we'll be totally infested with these predators.
Dayton's platform addresses ways to fight the increase of hate crimes based on a person's race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Like most of the other DFL gubernatorial candidates, Dayton says the state should not ease handgun permit requirements as the state Republican Party's platform calls for. He calls likely Republican gubernatorial nominee Norm Coleman's campaign promise shameless pandering to the far right.

Dayton: And to the defiance of common sense which I find hard to understand by anybody but especially the mayor of a major city.
Dayton says allowing more people to carry concealed handguns more easily won't make society safer.
Dayton: All you need to do is ride on a metro bus or walk down an average street and look at the people sitting with you or walking toward you and ask yourself, if 10 times more of them were carrying a handgun, would I be safer or not, even if I had one myself, and I think common sense would tell you the answer is no.
So how does Dayton plan to pay for his proposals? He, like many candidates nationwide this year, can call upon budget surplus money.