MIKE FREEMAN'S MOST FORMIDABLE DFL challenger is State Attorney General Skip Humphrey. But he says as Hennepin County Attorney he knows how to crack down on crime too. He says his approaches focus on both prevention and punishment.
Freeman says if he's elected governor, he'll work to establish an elite network of prosecutors, police, and investigators who'll focus on putting major offenders behind bars, and they'll respond to any request for help by local law enforcement officials across the state.
On the issue of guns, Freeman opposes Republican efforts to ease handgun permit requirements.
Freeman: Norm Coleman and the Republicans have adopted the concealed-weapons concept. That means anyone who wants a permit can carry a weapon and conceal it under their clothes. That's the wild West. That's silly.Earlier this year, Freeman backed one North Minneapolis resident's call for 30-year prison sentences to anyone who sells a gun to a child, even if it's a first offense.
Freeman says if the state is going to curb growing gang violence, then early intervention is necessary - especially for delinquents under the age of 10. In a Hennepin County study of children who were under 10 when they committed their first crime, 70 percent had been abused. He says more must be done to strengthen the child protection system.
Freeman says another focus of his is preventing juvenile crime by cracking down on school delinquents.
Freeman: Truancy is clearly the first sign in criminal activity. Ninety-eight percent of the juveniles at Red Wing have a history of truancy before they committed their crimes. Keep young people in school and give them the opportunity to move forward. And my hat's off to the schools - Hennepin County - that have made a renewed effort in reducing truancy.Critics of Freeman point to two homicides, one in 1994 and one this pring in Minneapolis, as evidence of a flawed filing system in the Hennepin County Attorney's office. 19-year-old Wakinyon McArthur was on probation for the 94 killing. He violated his probation by being arrested for disorderly conduct and faced probation revocation. The hearing was postponed because paperwork was missing from his file, and it during that time he was charged in a second killing.
A spokeswoman for the county attorney's office, who now works on Freeman's campaign, said officials were reviewing the office's system of handling such cases.
On the issue of domestic violence, Freeman says he'll create more one-stop centers for victims like the facility in Hennepin County.
Freeman:We have the nation's first domestic abuse victims'-service center, where victim survivors of domestic abuse can come, and within a three-hour period of time, have a place for daycare, advice, counsel, and referral on how to find safe places to live and an opportunity for employment, if that's something they're seeking. They can apply for, and receive, an order for protection. Additional criminal investigation can be done, and we'll even charge the case on site at the same time in that three-hour block of time, if we have enough evidence.
But Freeman says if he's elected governor, he cannot do battle with the forces of crime alone,
Freeman: It takes a community willing to come forth with witnesses and people willing to call on suspicious activity when they see it. It's good prosecutors and good police investigation. It's judges willing to sentence people to prison. It's taxpayers willing to build additional prisons. It's county commissioners willing to vote for larger jails - it's a whole group of things.Other initiatives include providing better equipment to forensic investigators, expanding the witness-protection program, and beefing up security in public parks.
Freeman will fund most of his crime initiatives through reallocation of existing resources.