Hennepin County Sheriff Throttles Transparency and Access to Data with ‘Improved’ Jail Roster

posted Sep 22, 2019, 7:38 AM by Ronnie V

By MN Crime Watch, September 18, 2019 - News and Commentary

URGENT: Call to Action below. If you appreciate all of the information that we share with you about criminals and arrested parties living in your neighborhood and their related cases, we need your help! See below.

By Minneapolis Crime Watch, September 18, 2019

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has delivered a serious blow to public transparency and has crushed access to public data that was previously, freely available. It’s an inexplicable move that not only stifles public access to data, but it’s a move that will cripple the work of public safety advocates and crime watchdogs across the state.

Over this past weekend, the Hennepin County Sheriff, Dave Hutchinson, launched what his office is promoting as an “improved” and “enhanced” jail roster website – the place where you can find booking information about people arrested and people in custody on charges in Hennepin County.

Only, it’s not improved, and it’s not enhanced. Unless you’re a criminal who wants your information obscured and limited to the public. 

The state mandates by statute that certain information collected on arrested persons is public data, including their address and their age. Up until this past weekend the Hennepin County jail roster that had been in place for well over a decade contained the home address and full date-of-birth of arrested parties. This information is collected at the time of booking by the sheriff’s office, which operates the Hennepin County Jail. 

(continue reading below image)

https://e299c90c-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/crimewatchne/file-cabinet/Previous%20roster.JPG?attachauth=ANoY7cqmmweKhpPdxdzFFHSVKUtbxpxnzHlbQaJ0XCiM5cKuEIB-PPSDZboify84K64kDwbifxxFDEGHLYStsxzeUFTS4SuAm3wd1RGTjp5omVgBzbP3jPK51V2G-FfMcIjULm90e8EOHtmDcS8vvYWJSFgrA4IUiA1YX7sSqDdwPhmjSZDo9f0Yj2l7bDFXXQ0anynozLSaMqAeLLbdOWMXp7ZFee8H81BvdhrA4-2OLD5xLDamzNQ%3D&attredirects=0

(Screen capture of prior jail roster under previous sheriff, as it appeared for over a decade)

The address of arrested parties is mandated as PUBLIC DATA in state statute, and is essential for those who want to know about potential criminals and dangerous offenders living in their neighborhood. This PUBLIC DATA was open and available on the jail roster website for over a decade under the previous sheriff. Now it’s gone. 

The birth date information is not specifically mandated by statute (“age” of arrested party is mandated), but a birth date is essential for checking criminal histories and for verifying the correct identity of perpetrators. A date of birth is REQUIRED to search the Minnesota Public Criminal History Search website, and up until this past weekend that vital data was available on the jail roster. Now it’s gone.

(continue reading below image)

https://e299c90c-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/crimewatchne/file-cabinet/New%20jail%20roster.JPG?attachauth=ANoY7coBFwF3D7jQFN0TB-vNal1j-MViWKLv08dqgNtWnxMh5nbJ660U_3Qh2VuyP0M-4nhC6YhPJzrXxXoX1TChLlcuyRk4-EW2VN00f08iFJvshYJsuEn3LLiyo8OA1YnQSh3wOwYkNkRjZBGrGmX6bB0yZjISq1B7nmFqG8TZoPoqhogM3vku73BvpOkO09Z_LPPgOnpdHslvGEgLq9KZ7AXOiokej8-n4XRXKouBBvs_-voUo3U%3D&attredirects=0

(Screen capture of “improved” and “enhanced” jail roster under new Sheriff Dave Hutchinson)

The removal of the address portion of PUBLIC DATA from the jail roster incapacitates our ability to search for and share neighborhood-specific information about perpetrators with you. The only plausible explanation for this wholesale change is to appease a vocal subset of the sheriff’s base that want to protect criminals at the expense of public safety.

The Crime Watch network and its group of volunteers has specifically and purposely used the address PUBLIC DATA contained in the jail roster to search for neighborhood-specific arrested parties and/or to search for persons arrested after known incidents at specific addresses. And we’ve used and shared that PUBLIC DATA to notify residents of predators, offenders and arrested parties facing charges who are living in our neighborhoods. 

EXAMPLES: 

Just last week, when booking addresses were still available on the jail roster, we were able to identify and post the person arrested following a child porn search warrant on the 2500 block of Benjamin Street Northeast. And through that information, we were able to find that he’d previously been charged with soliciting a child for sex. Without the essential PUBLIC DATA of address records being displayed, now we will have no way of knowing who was arrested from the address by looking at the jail roster.

In July we were able to post the known address of a violent sex offender who had a new arrest because the address PUBLIC DATA was available on the jail roster.

In July we were able to post follow up about a gang member who had been charged in a shoot-out in Northeast Minneapolis and gleaned his address PUBLIC DATA from the jail roster at the time so people could know about this violent offender living in their neighborhood.  

In July we posted about another person charged with criminal sexual conduct involving a 16-year-old. The record stood out to us on the jail roster specifically because of the address PUBLIC DATA listed on the jail roster. If not for the address PUBLIC DATA being listed on the jail roster, he wouldn’t have caught our attention. 

Over the years we’ve been able to post numerous offenders connected to incidents we’d previously posted about by connecting address PUBLIC DATA from the jail roster. Like this chronic offender with numerous felonies.

And we’ve been able to let residents know about violent and other offenders living in their neighborhood like this person who was involved in a shooting (subsequently convicted), and this woman who is a chronic offender arrested on new charges and previously convicted of felony mail theft because PUBLIC DATA address information was available on the jail roster.

We’ve been able to tell you about arrested parties from chronic problem properties because the address PUBLIC DATA was available on the jail roster. Critical information like this helps local residents be able to request action from the city or the property owner to address the chronic problems. Awareness is key.

Here are other offenders who were/are living in our neighborhoods that we’ve been able to tell you about because the PUBLIC DATA address information was previously free and accessible on the jail roster (now it’s not):
(right click links to open in new window)

Predatory offender arrested on warrants.

Chronic offender with new arrests.

Child predator (now convicted).

Chronic offender with multiple arrests.

Another chronic offender.

Another chronic offender.

Another chronic offender.

Another chronic violent offender.

This multi-time felon.

Violent offender with new arrests.

This arsonist.

This burglar/chronic offender.

Another chronic offender.

This multi-time felon.

This chronic thief.

This burglar/chronic offender.

This violent offender.

This sex offender with new arrests.

This chronic offender who can’t stop getting arrested.

This child porn distributor.

This chronic burglar who was accused of molesting a child but prosecutors tossed him a plea bargain.

This robber.

This multi-time felon.

This burglar/chronic offender.

This violent offender who judges spun through the system time after time.

This pedophile (now convicted). 

This violent sex offender

This multi-time felon with weapons convictions.

And this murderer.

This burglar with violent tendencies who became a murderer (now convicted). And our post about him before he became a murderer.

And many, many more.

Sheriff Hutchinson promised “transparency” during his campaign saying, “[n]othing dissolves communal trust faster than hiding information or neglecting legitimate questions from the public.” 

Nine months after taking office, Sheriff Hutchinson has REMOVED transparency and convenient access to PUBLIC DATA and vital birth date information in favor of “enhancements” for criminals stating in the press release about the roster changes, “[t]he updated Jail Roster makes it simpler to find important information, such as hearing and bail information on court charges and depositing money into commissary accounts.” 

These are all “enhancements” which are only favorable for inmates, not for those who are concerned about public safety.

In order to obtain the PUBLIC DATA address information from the “improved” jail roster now, a person is required to fill out a Data Request Form for each individual request and submit each individual request to the sheriff’s Data Practices Unit and then wait several days or weeks for your data request to be fulfilled – if ever. That is not an acceptable procedure to obtain PUBLIC DATA information that has previously been freely available and conveniently accessible to the public.

CALL TO ACTION

We are not asking for anything new. We are asking the sheriff to RESTORE ADDRESS PUBLIC DATA and vital information to the jail roster which is critical to the interests of public safety and public awareness. They have the information. They have the technology – the information was posted online prior to this past weekend.

WE NEED YOU to contact the sheriff and ask him to RESTORE ADDRESS PUBLIC DATA and other vital info previously available and easily accessible on the jail roster. Contact the sheriff at Sheriff@hennepin.us or 612-348-3744 to voice your concern. It’s best if you use email or phone so they know you are a real person, but if you want to remain anonymous you can submit comments online here: https://www.citizenobserver.com/cov6/app/webTipForm.html?id=7285

Thank you for helping us to continue providing you with important public safety information.

 (Top photo: Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson, Source: Twitter) 

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