Communities to Weigh in on Sentencing of Chronic Offenders

Updated: 02/26/2013 5:37 AM By: Todd Wilson

50 year old Charles Hall broke into cars at an apartment complex on Pillsbury Avenue in July of 2011. He gets caught and faces two felonies for burglary.

In September of 2011, 22 year old Kyle Cannon admits to Minneapolis Police Investigators he broke into a restaurant on 42nd Avenue. He's hauled off to jail and faces a felony for burglary.

For both men their community took the opportunity to talk about their crimes.        
"It's a right, that victims who are direct victims of a crime and community members who are more indirect victims of crimes have," Gail Baez said.

Gail Baez works for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. She says, the purpose of the impact statement is to tell the court how the crime has impacted their lives.

"It's something that the legislature did for victims, I would say, more than ten years ago," Baez said.

Community impact statements are typically used in drug crimes, property crimes and felon in possession crimes. Cases where individuals are considered by the community to be chronic offenders.

"So while we get a lot of those impact statements in, it's probably a small amount of the cases that we actually deal with," Baez said.

Douglas Kans is a defense attorney.

"In some cases it's a positive depending on what they say for the defendant. But most times it's to look for specific sanctions against a defendant," Kans said.

The statements carry weight. Hall, he is currently doing a 7 year bid in Moose Lake. Cannon, he goes to court in September for sentencing.

Community impact statements are not anonymous. That's to make sure the person writing one is telling the truth and doesn't simply dislike the defendant. If someone is scared to leave their name they can be given a court watch number. This number is their identity and only the court would know who they are.