Commentary: It’s time for Minnesota to act and get tough on child predators

It is time for all of us to speak up for those who cannot defend themselves.

Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

It takes a lot to shock us these days. Considering our mission is to protect children from violence, exploitation and indoctrination, we must constantly review lots of bad curriculum, bad laws, and, well … just bad stuff.

When it was brought to our attention that the Minnesota criminal justice system is actually endangering our children because it does not take the crime of trafficking in child pornography seriously, we were shocked. We, like most Minnesotans, had no idea that Minnesota is one of the worst states, if not the very worst state, for refusing to lock up the perpetrators of these crimes.

I am not exaggerating. Eighty-five percent of the time, those convicted are not sentenced to prison! Perpetrators get probation instead of prison, and often no public record of their crimes.

How can this be allowed to continue in a state which claims it cares about children?

The just-released Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission 2021 Report to the Legislature defines child porn this way: “Child-pornography images frequently depict children, toddlers, and infants being sexually assaulted, physically abused, tortured, and humiliated.”

Let that sink in. Eighty-five percent of perpetrators convicted of possessing pictures and videos of infants and children suffering horrific sexual violence and perversions walk out free on probation. Yet, in almost all cases they are also “distributing” the same materials all over the internet. Not only that, many of them are simultaneously abusing children.

Several articles have recently appeared in this publication explaining in more detail what needs to be done to put these perps behind bars and keep them away from other children. You can read the articles here and here. There are several very good bills before the Minnesota House and Senate which would be significant steps in the right direction.

The bills are HF229 and SF1220, chief authored by Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, in the House and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, in the Senate. The second bill is HF226/SF1826, also chief-authored by Grossell and Ingebrigtsen.

Both House bills were referred to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee in the House. The Senate bill was referred to the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

We are asking all of you to contact your legislators and ask them to do the following:

  • Sign on as co-authors
  • Urge the House and Senate chairs to schedule a hearing
  • Read all the links in this article to learn more about the issue
  • Share this information far and wide

We also have resources on our website. The Sentencing Guidelines Flyer and Petition for Protect Minnesota’s Kids Act are a few. An in-depth article published in The Federalist is here.

It’s time we the people take this situation to heart. We must demand our legislators take meaningful action to combat the sexual crimes committed against our children and toughen up mandatory sentencing.

Silence is not an option, because silence is a decision not to act. We must speak up. It is time for all of us to speak up for those who cannot defend themselves.


Michele Lentz

Michele Lentz is the president and co-founder of the Child Protection League.