Why the Protect Minnesota’s Kids Act?
Minnesota has decriminalized the trading in images that depict the sexual abuse of children. About 85% of persons convicted of trafficking in these materials are getting probation, not prison time. In Minnesota, according to the state’s own data, 74% of those producing this material are receiving probation. The section of Minnesota law that addresses this problem isn’t even in the criminal section of the Minnesota code.
Minnesota’s law enforcement professionals are demoralized. They see and deal with terrible things, but many routinely say that they can’t put the predators away unless they get the feds involved. But all of the predators trading in these materials are an active threat to children, and many are actively abusing children.
That’s not right. That’s why we need you!
In the legislative session 2019-2020, HF 4470 The Standing Up for Minnesota Kids Act was introduced that would simply adopt the federal criminal code’s tougher sentences on this toxic material that depicts the violent and sadistic abuse of children.
Please note that for the upcoming 2021-2022 session, a bill will have a different number and possibly different name if and when introduced.
The law would….
- Adopt the federal criminal code’s tougher sentencing for child predators with child sexual abuse imagery—where receipt, distribution, and production all carry often serious mandatory prison time.
- Mirror federal penalties for production, distribution, receipt, and possession of child sexual abuse imagery.
- Create a new crime of “Receipt,” with the same penalties as Dissemination, adopting the federal standard.
- Add “accessing with intent to view” to the crime of Possession, to close a potential loophole.
- Increases the allowable penalty for possession of child sexual abuse imagery when the victim is under the age of 13, adopting the standard from federal law.
The Action Plan:
- Join Minnesotans in signing the petition calling on the Minnesota legislature to pass a Standing Up for Minnesota Kids Act and get tough on child predators. They need you to be their voice. Sign the Petition
- You can spread the word that Minnesota has a problem, and that our state’s indifference to child abuse relative to the rest of the country will no longer be tolerated. Check out the Resources below for information to share with others.
- We can pass laws that toughen penalties, and give our law enforcement officers more resources to combat child predators, especially those who are trading in child sexual abuse imagery. Contact your MN Representatives. Who represents me?
- We can pass a Protect Minnesota’s Kids Act, which:
- Adopts the federal criminal code’s tougher sentencing for child predators with child sexual abuse imagery—where receipt, distribution, and production all carry often serious mandatory prison time.
- Creates a new crime of “Receipt,” with the same penalties as Dissemination, adopting the federal standard.
- Adds “accessing with intent to view” to the crime of Possession, to close a potential loophole.
- Increases the allowable penalty for possession of child sexual abuse imagery when the victim is under the age of 12, adopting the standard from federal law.
For criminal sexual conduct (CSC) involving a child under the age of 13, data shows that in most Minnesota counties, offenders are being given a stay (probation) and no prison sentence 50% to 60% of the time. Some of these offenders are even receiving a stay of imposition, reducing the crime to a misdemeanor, and not required to register as sex offenders.
As an excuse, prosecutors claim they are following the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines and that cases involving child-victims are hard to prosecute. But some county attorneys, following the same guidelines, have a starkly better track-record. When it comes to prosecuting predators for possessing and sharing child sexual abuse imagery, there’s no such excuse. All the prosecutors need to do is have a technical
expert take the stand.
Minnesota has effectively decriminalized the possession of child sexual abuse imagery. Our law on this material isn’t even in the criminal section of our code—it’s in the obscenity section. In other words, Minnesota has effectively decriminalized child sexual abuse imagery. About 85% of predators possessing child sexual abuse imagery receive only probation. In many of the larger Minnesota counties, well over 90% receive probation.
Getting tough on these predators isn’t just policing what people look at, says Grier Weeks, a senior executive at PROTECT. The material being traded online depicts the violent abuse, torture, and rape of young children—even toddlers. The material, says Weeks, should break our hearts. It is “far worse than heroin or meth. … It’s like anthrax.”
It’s so bad that police officers in Minnesota routinely say that if they want to put the bad guy away, they have to get the feds involved. Certainly, all of the predators viewing this material are an active threat to the kids around them. And as best we can tell, over 55% of these predators are also “contact offenders” with local child victims. Getting them off of the street and into prison is imperative for public safety.
Where does this data come from?
The data comes from PROTECT, a child protection group with a national reach that has passed countless laws at the state and federal level to protect America’s kids. They spent tens of thousands of dollars to compile data on Minnesota sentencing from 2007 to 2016. Based on this data, some lawmakers tried to toughen Minnesota’s laws, but ran up against bipartisan indifference in the Senate and outright resistance from many county attorneys.
Did the legislature do anything based on PROTECT’s data?
No. People tried to pass tough bills but these were rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in leadership positions. In the end, only superficial changes were passed in response to PROTECT’s data.
Inside the uphill battle in St. Paul to create tougher penalties for child predators
Petition for Protect Minnesota’s Kids Act
An online petition and a downloadable PDF to print and gather signatures
HF 4470, The Protect Minnesota’s Kids Act
Introduced during the 2019-2020 session
- PROTECT’s Sunlight Project for the State of Minnesota shows a county-by-county view of your County Attorneys’ records on prosecuting child predators
- PROTECT’s initial Report (PDF) on the State of Minnesota
- Willis Krumholz is a young man who was referred to PROTECT’s data, and it lit a fire under him.
- Krumholz covered Minnesota’s record on sentencing for child abusers in Alpha News
Minnesota Isn’t Being Tough On Child-Predators
- Krumholz looked into the Minnesota issue and the national lack of attention on going after child predators in The Federalist In Minnesota, People Who Sexually Abuse Children Are Usually Given Just Probation
- Krumholz outlines the fight in St. Paul to get tougher penalties on predators—including those for and against tougher laws Inside the uphill battle in St. Paul to create tougher penalties for child predators