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Hennepin inmates can now seek reduced sentences


Hennepin Country Attorney Mary Moriarty speaking on a recent panel discussion at Mitchell Hamline School of Law about Prosecutor-Initiated Resentencing.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) is now taking applications for currently incarcerated individuals seeking reduced sentences. 


It’s the result of a law passed in 2023 known as Prosecutor-Initiated Sentence Adjustment, or PISA. It allows prosecutors to ask a judge to reduce a sentence if they believe it “no longer serves the interest of justice and public safety.” 


There are more than 2,000 individuals serving prison sentences for Hennepin County convictions. According to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, that’s more people than in any other county. 


"It’s our responsibility as prosecutors to seek justice,” she said. “Protecting public safety does not end at sentencing… This new process will help us consider individual cases in a fair, transparent way.” 


The HCAO has enlisted lawyers at the University of St. Thomas School of Law to review and process applications. Given the high number of potentially eligible individuals, the HCAO is prioritizing individuals who are not scheduled for release until at least 2027, have served more than three years in prison and do not have any open cases. 


In making their decisions, judges will consider the impact a sentence adjustment would have on public safety, how it would promote the individual’s rehabilitation, whether the adjustment would still properly reflect the severity of the underlying offense, and whether it would help to reduce sentencing disparities. 


The HCAO promises that victims’ voices will play an important part in the process. Two victims’ rights groups, Violence Free Minnesota and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, supported the passage of the PISA law. The law requires prosecutors and the court to consider the impact a sentence adjustment would have on victims or victims’ families. Victims have the right to provide input on the decision and submit a statement to the judge. 

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