While Minnesota has a very small prison population, it has still seen some of the sharpest prison population growth in the last 15 years. Higher prison populations result in a need for new prison facilities to provide more room. Thus, unless taxpayers are willing to spend more on these new facilities, Minnesota needs to reform its system.
Following in the footsteps of other states that have undergone similar criminal justice reforms, Minnesota has seen a reduction in its prison population. The rehabilitation programs established in 2016 provided an alternative for offenders convicted of drug use which opened up more space within the prisons for violent offenders. Minnesota has seen an increase in available prison beds despite the increase in drug convictions overall. When we compare convictions prior to the drug sentencing reform act in 2016 to post reform, there is a greater participation rate in community-based programs than an imprisonment rate for non-violent drug charges.
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