In a county-by-county analysis of prison admission rates, the New York Times and Fordham University found that Polk County sent more people to prison per capita in 2014 than any other county in Minnesota. For every 10,000 residents in Polk County, 50 people were admitted to prison.
Compared to the rate of Hennepin County, 12 per 10,000, and Ramsey County, 19 per 10,000, it is very easy to see that Polk County is cracking down on crime. Here are some reasons why and what it means for those charged.
The MinnPost estimates that this increase in imprisonment is most likely due to an increase in drug crimes. The rate of drug crimes has been on the rise since 2006, but the rate of major crimes, such as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, has largely stayed the same. Minnesota has state sentencing guidelines, which are supposed to bring uniformity to criminal sentencing, but the higher prison rate indicates that officials may be using certain statutes more aggressively to give those charged with a drug crime stronger punishments.
Another element in the higher rate is geography. Rural areas tend to be harsher on crime than urban areas. Bigger counties have more resources in place to help drug offenders and can afford to be less punitive, while smaller counties have become more punitive in their approach to addiction and drug crimes.
The consequences of a felony conviction are severe, and those charged with drug crimes face prison time and have to pay large fines. They may lose voting privileges and have a harder time finding work and housing once they do get out of prison.
It is important to have an advocate to find the best possible outcome. Every defendant has the right to an attorney to make sure their rights are protected and that they understand their responsibilities.