Thank you to KAAL and Betsy Singer for hosting this last debate. In case you missed it, you can find the link here:
As your County Attorney, one issue that I have been charged with is how to handle the very challenging topic of immigration. I work closely with other county attorneys throughout Minnesota to implement best practices and keep Olmsted consistent with other counties. I work with community groups, the County Sheriff and the County Board to hear concerns but also make sure our policies stay within the law.
This year, I worked closely with a working group to define our policies around immigration. Recently, I learned about some concerns regarding my stance on immigration. I share this memo from July of this year to help address any questions you may have about how I advise the County Sheriff and County Board.
My door is always open. I answer emails daily. If you have remaining questions or concerns, please call or email.
It is humbling to receive endorsements from my colleagues from around the state. Working through this organization to collaborate with other County Attorneys is critical to keeping Olmsted County a leader in policy and to keep our practices consistent throughout Minnesota. Thank you to my colleagues and friends for this endorsement!
I have been working for over four years to bring a Veterans Court to the Olmsted County and the Third Judicial District. A Veterans Court falls under the umbrella of Specialty Courts along with Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts and Family Dependency Courts, to name a few.
We have long recognized that men and women who serve in the armed forces, and in particular those who deploy to combat zones, have a unique relationship to their peers in the military. We also recognize that for a significant number of those deployed, the experiences they encountered during their service is life changing. Upon return, some struggle with alcohol or drugs, violence and simply re-engaging in family relationships. All too often returning veterans find themselves struggling in the criminal justice system.
Veterans Courts, like other specialty courts, emphasize intense supervision while offering an array of support services to rehabilitate the participant. An important aspect is to engage participants with a mentor, someone who also has served, reestablishing the participant’s service relationship.
I attended a Veterans Court presentation on September 7 at the Minnesota County Attorney Association Leadership Forum. Brock Hunter, an attorney and advocate for Veterans Courts, shared that often the criminal charge can serve as the intervention for a veteran, finally giving the veteran access to VA services and the structure to reintegrate back into the community they left when they deployed.
In tense situations, often a veteran will react like trained and conditioned, to fight back. “Combat Trauma” and crime waves from returning service men (and women) can be traced back to the Civil War. After WWII, 1/3 of prisoners in Minnesota prisons were combat veterans!
I intend to keep working to bring a Veterans Court to Olmsted County through a district model. As I shared with the Post Bulletin, they are a very unique population in that respect. “They deserve special treatment. They deserve that special opportunity.”
I will be attending the Minnesota County Attorney Association Leadership Forum and Board of Directors meeting this week. Among the significant topics to be discussed, we will begin our discussion of legislative priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session.
A topic our statewide organization has been involved in for a couple years is Probation Reform. Our workgroup has been gathering data and meeting to look for ways to “standardize” probation across the state. For example, in Olmsted County, most offenders are placed on probation for the longest time authorized by law. In most cases, the offender is released early, usually having done less than half the original time. At the same time, in Hennepin County nearly every offender is placed on probation for no more than three years and serves the entire time.
At the end of the day the offenders serve about the same amount of time. But initially the terms are not the same. Our work will be to try to standardize the practices across the state so all offenders get the same terms and level of service no matter where they reside. People living in our communities are moving about the state, we need to treat everyone similarly to the best of our abilities.
MCAA Board of Directors is just one example of the larger role I play as your Olmsted County Attorney. Leading others for change across our region and state. #progressyouknow