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IN-DEPTH: City attorney program tries to keep gun offenders from reentering system

June 06, 2019 06:43 PM

The Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office is trying to stop low-level gun offenders from breaking the law again by offering them a chance at a new start.

The Pathways program offers first-time gross misdemeanor weapons offenders the opportunity to avoid jail and have their criminal record wiped clean if they complete an intense 9-month diversion program.

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Nearly two-thirds of those first arrested for low-level gun crimes in the Minneapolis, like carrying a gun without a permit, were coming back into the system after their conviction but with more violent crimes according to City Attorney’s Office.

"It's giving people the opportunity to get on with their lives and have successful lives,” said Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal. “That's what we want to see, and that's the kind of work that's going to improve public safety."

The City Attorney’s gun diversion program recently saw its first 15 students graduate.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was granted rare access to watch the program Thursday, run in the Uptown Neighborhood by the group Urban Ventures.

"A pistol does something to your personality ... especially when you are carrying it illegally," said instructor John Turnipseed.

The Pathways program provides participants trauma-informed information about what weapons can do to lives, and why there are other options.

"It's not a cookie cutter," said Priscilla Brown, who oversees the program that includes individual attention to the offender. “I think the uniqueness of the program is helping people realize we really care."

The Pathways program for weapons offenders launched back in May 2017, and 15 people have already graduated.

New data was recently released to the Minneapolis City Council that showed the program has been offered to 76 people, so far.

"One of the most rewarding experiences I think of my professional career was going to the first graduation,” Segal said. "These individuals will have a better opportunity for a better future."

The City Attorney’s Office will now start tracking graduates to see if they stay out of the system.

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Eric Chaloux

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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