Prosecutor-Initiated Sentence Adjustment
In 2023, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law allowing prosecutors to ask a judge to adjust the sentences of past criminal prosecutions. This law, referred to as Prosecutor-Initiated Sentence Adjustment (“PISA”) is in Minnesota Statute Section 609.133. Prosecutors are not permitted to seek a longer sentence under this law.
Background Information on the Law
Under the PISA law in Minnesota, prosecutors may review past cases and file a petition to ask a judge to adjust an individual’s sentence. If the court determines that there are “substantial and compelling reasons to adjust the individual’s sentence,” the judge can modify it, with three exceptions.
The court cannot:
- increase someone’s sentence
- reduce or eliminate restitution
- reduce or eliminate conditional release if required by law after someone has served time in prison
When the court reviews a petition, it must consider the following factors:
- the impact a sentence adjustment would have on public safety
- how an adjustment would promote the rehabilitation of the individual
- whether an adjustment would properly reflect the severity of the underlying offense or reduce sentencing disparities
- statements by a victim about the harm suffered and the potential sentence adjustment
Victims’ voices will play an important part in this process. Two victims’ rights groups, Violence Free Minnesota, a coalition to end relationship abuse, and MNCASA, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, supported the passage of the PISA law.
Under the law, prosecutors and the court must consider the impact a sentence adjustment would have on victims. Victims or a victim’s family have the right to provide input and make a statement to the court about a possible sentence adjustment. The HCAO will notify the victim or victim’s family when it has decided to move forward with a case and assign a victim-witness staff member to guide the victim or family through the process.
PISA in Hennepin County
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has been actively identifying types of cases to prioritize for potential sentence adjustments. Eligible individuals will receive an invitation from our office to apply for PISA.
As of February 7, 2024, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is also accepting applications for PISA from incarcerated individuals serving Hennepin County convictions. To ensure our office is effectively using PISA, we must prioritize certain applications. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is currently prioritizing individuals who:
- are currently incarcerated,
- are not scheduled for release until at least 2027,
- have served more than 3 years in prison, and
- do not have any open cases
There are over 2,000 individuals serving Hennepin County convictions in DOC custody. If you do not currently fit the above criteria, we will not be moving forward with your case at this time. We will, however, respond to your application and invite you to apply when you meet the above criteria. (Please note: criteria is subject to change, and we will update both our website and the application to ensure we are communicating the current criteria with potential applicants).
You can download the application here.
The application should only be completed by the incarcerated person or their counsel. The incarcerated person does not need counsel in order to submit an application, and they will not “skip the line” by having counsel.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is working with lawyers at the University of St. Thomas School of Law (UST Law) to review and process applications for Prosecutor-Initiated Sentence Adjustment. Please note that by submitting an application for PISA, the applicant is allowing the HCAO to share information related to the case with UST Law.