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Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Gov. Ventura's Proposed Budget
January 23, 2001

The criminal justice system in Minnesota is composed of many federal, state and local agencies working together to investigate crime, apprehend suspects, adjudicate criminal cases, assist crime victims, and sanction offenders to reduce future risk of crime. This section of the budget includes funding for the Department of Corrections, the criminal justice-related portions of the Department of Public Safety, the courts, the Board of Public Defense, and the Department of Human Rights.

The gvernor's general fund budget for these agencies provides a 13 percent increase over the current biennium. The budget for all funds increases by 4.4 percent, the general fund increases partially offset by reduced federal funds. The budget recommendations address cost pressures in the criminal justice area due to caseload increases and provide for technology improvements for collecting and sharing criminal justice information.

Criminal Justice System Improvements

The governor recommends $27 million to improve criminal justice information systems through the multi-agency CriMNet initiative. This funding will continue current statewide projects that meet criminal justice integration enterprise architecture standards, and further planning efforts to determine the best approach, and cost estimates for integrating information systems that are now primarily implemented at the local level. This section of the budget includes $8 million of those requests, including:

  • $3 million to work with counties to develop cost estimates and recommendations on how best to integrate local criminal justice agency systems and data with state information.
  • $2 million to alleviate the "suspense file" problem, which occurs when criminal justice information is not collected, processed, or transmitted properly, resulting in incomplete criminal history files.
  • $1.5 million to develop statewide systems for tracking offenders in jail or prison, or under community supervision.
  • $1.5 million to maintain the CriMNet enterprise model for use in all criminal justice information systems implementation efforts, and to staff other CriMNet activities.

Department of Corrections

The governor recommends funding of $730 million for the Department of Corrections, a reduction of nearly $4 million from the base. The department will continue efforts initiated in the current biennium to reduce the daily operating costs per inmate in the state prison system and move Minnesota out of the top five states for such costs. This will be accomplished by pursuing cost-reduction initiatives that can be reasonably undertaken while maintaining the safety and security of the institutions. The budget savings from these efforts will be $18.4 million.

A substantial portion of the savings, $13.7 million, is reallocated to maintain correctional services for offenders in the community, including:

  • $2 million to reduce caseloads of probation officers.
  • $1.5 million for additional probation officers assigned specifically for the intensive supervision of dangerous offenders.
  • $1.4 million to expand performance accountability and technical assistance for community services programs around the state.
  • $2 million for sex offender treatment and transition.
  • $3.8 million to maintain reimbursement of counties for 50 percent of probation officer costs.
  • $3 million to increase the Community Corrections Act subsidy for local correctional services.

Other governor's initiatives include facility cost efficiency improvements, a CRiMNet offender tracking system, and a one-time reduction in grants to counties for sending juveniles to residential treatment facilities.

The Department of Public Safety

The governor's funding recommendations for the Department of Public Safety include:

  • $7.5 million to match federal disaster assistance, and $4.4 million for a deficiency to match disaster assistance received in the current biennium.
  • $3.4 million to replace funding for BCA lab analysis in DWI cases that was removed from the budget in the 2000 session.
  • Eliminates the auto theft surcharge on automobile insurance, which will save car owners nearly $4.6 million over the next biennium.

The Courts and the Public Defender

The governor believes these functions are a core public responsibility, and has therefore recommended funding at a rate higher than many other parts of the state budget.

Respecting the separate constitutional status of the courts and the Public Defender, the governor reaffirms the past practice of not making specific recommendations on the budget requests for these offices, except those requiring coordination with other parts of the budget. The governor's budget includes $27 million for caseload increases in the judicial branch, primarily reflecting changes in criminal penalties and sentencing laws.

The governor's recommendations also include $18 million to cover the costs currently borne by counties for certain services that will transfer to the state on July 1, 2001. Those services are for providing guardians ad litem to juveniles to represent their interests in various proceedings, interpreters for increasing numbers of non-English-speakers in legal proceedings, psychological exams related to court commitments, and waiving of court costs for persons not able to pay. those increased costs to the state courts will be offset by a reduction in HACA assistance to counties.

Funding of $15 million is also recommended in the budget of the Office of Technology to make available to the courts for the implementation of the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS), as part of the governor's recommendations for CriMNet.