Most Americans have no way of knowing whether crimes of sexual violence are being taken seriously where they live. As a result, most choose their prosecutors and judges with little (if any) information about their actual records on what matters most: protecting the innocent.
This Minnesota Community Safety Tool is the first of its kind in the United States.
Our goal is to give Minnesotans a simple way to view and share basic facts about how their community is doing. We have designed an interactive website that allows you to explore the criminal justice record in your county and to compare that record to other counties in your state. We have included data on criminal cases for both child and adult victims.
PROTECT makes no recommendations or endorsements of individual office-holders or candidates. Our hope is that citizens — when armed with objective information — will be able to make their own informed decisions and become better advocates for reform and improvement. We also hope that increased transparency will encourage reformers to seek public office.
The Minnesota Community Safety Tool was made possible entirely by private, individual contributions from Minnesotans and other concerned citizens across the United States. With the support of our private donors, PROTECT plans to expand this website and launch similar sites for other states in the coming years.
PROTECT selected the State of Minnesota to launch our first interactive Sunlight website for two reasons: its weak performance on sentencing for sexual abuse and child exploitation and its strong performance gathering and reporting criminal justice statistics.
PROTECT has a long record working in states across the U.S. on sexual abuse and assault laws. Many states have harmful laws that reward sexual predators with lighter sentences when their victim is their own child. Minnesota is one such state, with laws on the books that allow probation for rape of even very young children if the court determines it “is in the best interest of the complainant or the family unit” [emphasis added].
When it comes to the sexual exploitation of children, we know of no state practice that compares to Minnesota’s shockingly weak sentencing. Approximately 90% of criminals convicted of distributing video and images of children being sexually assaulted, displayed, and tortured get probation, with their conviction very often reduced to a misdemeanor.
We also chose Minnesota as our first state for the Community Safety Tool because the state appears to do a very good job of collecting and analyzing criminal justice data. For more information about the data used on this website, please see “About the Data.”