About MSGC

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission (MSGC) embodies the goals of the criminal justice system as determined by the citizens of our state through their elected representatives. This system promotes uniform and proportional sentences for convicted felons and helps to ensure that sentencing decisions are not influenced by factors such as race, gender, or the exercise of constitutional rights by the defendant. The Guidelines serve as a model for the criminal justice system as a whole to aspire to, as well as provide a standard to measure how well the system is working. The purpose of MSGC is to establish rational and consistent sentencing standards that enhance the public safety of the citizens of Minnesota, reduce sentencing disparity, ensure that the sanctions imposed for felony convictions are proportional to the severity of the offense and the offender's criminal history, and support the appropriate use of finite correctional resources.

Facts About the Commission:

  • In 1978, Minnesota created the nation's first sentencing guidelines commission.
  • In 1981, Minnesota became the first state to implement a sentencing guidelines structure.
  • The Commission is an 11-member body created by the Legislature to develop and maintain the Guidelines, a set of rules that judges just apply in felony sentencing.
  • The Commission employs a full-time staff of six to maintain the Guidelines, train criminal justice professionals, collect and analyze data, and respond to questions regarding sentencing.
  • In 1981, when the Guidelines went into effect, 5,500 felons were sentenced. In 2011, 14,571 felons were sentenced.
  • In addition to more felons being sentenced over the years, sentencing lengths have increased, and the Guidelines have become far more complex, due, in part, to statutory enhancements and mandatory minimums.