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Limitation Proposed for Crime-Related Reform Laws

By March 28, 2018 No Comments

Minnesota Lawyer recently reported on a proposed bill related to the amelioration doctrine in Minnesota. This doctrine says that “when a legislature enacts new laws reducing criminal sentences — as Minnesota lawmakers did with the 2016 Drug Sentencing Reform Act — the lowered penalties apply if the case of a defendant convicted under the old law remained under appeal when the new penalties go into effect.” According to its sponsor, the bill would “clarify” when the amelioration doctrine applies by having it not apply to a statute unless specifically mentioned in the statute. Some legislators are skeptical of the bill. “I am really struggling with why we would want to do this,” says Rep. Jack Considine. Prosecutor and legislator Dave Pinto agrees: “Looking at this right now, I am really reluctant to make changes to some pretty fundamental bedrock principles without a broader sense of how this fits into our scheme.” The bill hasn’t been voted on but could become law through “inclusion in a future omnibus public safety bill.”