Frequently Asked Questions
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) operates several public web sites that provide information on offenders. Located at http://info.doc.state.mn.us/publicviewer/main.asp, the “offender locator” provides public information by offender name including offenses, release dates, etc. Another site lists “wanted fugitives.” Only offenders under DOC prison or community supervision jurisdiction are included. The “level 3 sex offender/predatory offender locator” provides information on sex offenders in the community that have been identified as high risk.
There is no parole board in Minnesota. In 1980, sentencing guidelines went into effect that set terms of imprisonment and supervised release that judges use in sentencing felons. With some exceptions, such as a boot camp program for eligible offenders, inmates must serve the sentencing guidelines time set by the court. The term of imprisonment can be lengthened if the inmate breaks prison rules. Only life sentences are not part of the guidelines system.
Capital punishment was last used in Minnesota in 1906 and was abolished in 1911. In 1989, the time increased from 17 years to 30 years before parole eligibility consideration for life sentences. Also in 1989, a sentence of life without the possibility of parole became law.
Inmates are required to work or participate in chemical dependency treatment, sex offender treatment, and education programs for two public safety reasons: First, inmates must be kept productively busy during the day. Inmate idleness is a dangerous threat to institution security and staff safety. Secondly, programs lower the risk of re-offending after release from prison. Teaching job and other skills prepares offenders to become crime-free, contributing members of our communities. For example, a recent evaluation of education programs in Minnesota prisons showed that offenders involved in education are 33 percent less likely to return to prison three years after release than those that did not participate.
The state operates:
Seven adult male facilities (Faribault, Lino Lakes, Oak Park Heights, St. Cloud, Rush City, Stillwater and Willow River/Moose Lake – Willow River is the site of a boot camp for adult males and females)
- One adult female facility (Shakopee)
- Two juvenile male facilities (MCF - Red Wing and MCF - Togo)
For a description of each institution click here.
Many offenders are placed on probation, which is supervision in the community by probation officers who enforce court-ordered conditions designed to protect the public. Using sentencing guidelines, judges determine whether an offender is placed on probation. Offenders on probation often serve jail time and may be required to make restitution, participate in treatment and/or pay fines. Many probationers are required to meet with probation officers on a regular basis and may be tested for drug or alcohol use. Generally, offenders on probation live at home and go to work. Probation is not a replacement for prison, but an effective punishment for offenders convicted of less serious crimes with less extensive criminal histories.