Safe Harbors Law

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The Minnesota Legislature Safe Harbor legislation on July 20, 2011.  This public safety bill includes protections for children who are commercially sexually exploited and clarifies that sexually exploited children are crime victims, not criminals.

Six changes were made to how the state protects sexually exploited children. The law:
  • Includes the definition of sexually exploited youth in Minnesota’s child protection code;
  • Excludes sexually exploited children under 16 from the definition of delinquent child;
  • Creates a mandatory first-time diversion from arrest for any 16 or 17 year old who has been exploited in prostitution (where the child meets the criteria);
  • Allows prosecutors to continue diversion or to proceed with Children in Need of Protection (CHIPS) petitions for 16 and 17 year olds coming through the system an additional time;
  • Increases penalties against buyers of sex with adults from $250 to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $750. The revenue these fees generate will be distributed to law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers to serve sexually exploited children; and
  • Directs the commissioner of public safety to work with stakeholders to create a victim-centered response for sexually exploited youth. (The Advocates for Human Rights)

On February 15, 2013 – The Advocates released a report analyzing Safe Harbor 2011, including the Safe Harbor Working Group process and the comprehensive approach to Safe Harbor which it developed, entitled Safe Harbor: Fulfilling Minnesota’s Promise to Protect Sexually Exploited Youth.  Read the Report

Thursday, February 21, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill was held at the Xcel Energy Center and at the Minnesota State Capitol.  Participants from all 67 Legislative Districts were briefed on four issues including Human Trafficking.  The JRLC Human Trafficking reads in part:   Support the “Safe Harbor—No Wrong Door” bill, SF 384 (Pappas); HF 485 (Allen), appropriating about $13 million over two years to form a network of specialized victim services. The bill also provides that 16 and 17 year old minors who are trafficked be treated as victims, not offenders. (JRLC)

A Member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Working Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, Ann Redmond, CSJ has been involved in the Minnesota State Task Force, mandated by the Legislature  that includes, advocates, service providers, attorneys, law enforcement and legislators. Sister Ann said, “the Safe Harbors Law is important because people at all levels have been involved in spelling out what is needed to achieve the goal of providing services to trafficked youth.”

Michele Garnett-McKenzie, Director of Advocacy, The Advocates for Human Rights stated that the Minnesota Safe Harbors Law is “at the forefront nationally in protecting exploited youth using a victim centered model.”

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

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Lead Sponsors: JRLC Day on the Hill

“Change Begins With Us!”

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are again “Lead Sponsors” of the JRLC (Joint Religious Legislative Coalition) Day on the Hill.  It is a powerful and potent day of  “interfaith advocacy for social justice” that again includes over 800 representatives of all 67 Minnesota Legislative Districts.

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director, Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America is presenting the keynote speech after which we will hear from Patrice Critchley-Menor, Diocese of Duluth regarding “Building our Coalitions.”

The issue briefings this year are: 

Family Economic Security Act          Human Trafficking

Budget Priorities and Taxes              Homes for All       Impartial Judiciary

At 11:45 the 2013 Lawrence D. Gibson Interfaith Social Justice Award will be presented to Governor Albert H. Quie and the 2013 Interfaith Social Justice Organization Award will be presented to Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness, Minneapolis

This afternoon affords participants the opportunity to meet with their legislators to bring the 2013 issues of the JRLC to their attention, encourage their support and leadership.

Part of being at the JRLC Day on the Hill is the opportunity to network with others, to connect with colleagues, hear from powerful leaders and get energized to continue to work of “collecting the power for mission (CSJ Acts of Chapter 2001).”

Our CSJ Table provided people with a bookmark highlighting our March events, including Breaking the Impasse IV with Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby and Nan Madden, Director, Minnesota Budget Project; 11th Day Prayer for Peace, March 11 “International Women’s Day” which is being planned with St. Catherine University Multi-Cultural and International Programs, Campus Ministry and the Women’s Center; and a list of CSJ ministries with websites.  In addition, CSJ offered gifts of “Hooked by the Spirit,” the life story of Rita Steinhagen, CSJ and “In Search of the Divine: Immigration” (ISD) to visitors our table.

Having immigration as the topic of the newest ISD providing voice to three people who migrated to the United States and are now citizens, is powerful with Immigration Reform having more support than anytime since 1986.  The DVDs are now in the hands of high school students, high school teachers, parish leaders, the Minnesota Council of Churches and United Theological Seminary to name but a few. 

JRLC Day on the Hill is another example of the great non-partisan work that is critical to a healthy democracy.

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

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A Morning Conversation with Senator Franken

Sen. Franken spoke this morning as part of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ “Coffee with Congress” series. He gave some brief remarks on the sequestration, his push for greater mental health parity (especially in schools), and the general political culture in Washington, DC. The audience was a representation of a wide variety of leaders in the Twin Cities’ non-profit community. In his remarks, and in his response to questions from the audience, Senator Franken stressed the importance of contacting his office to talk with his staff about what the realities on the ground are. He admitted that there a number of issues he is aware of, but unsure of how to move forward. He wants ideas from people working on those issues in the community. For me, this morning was an important reminder that citizen engagement in the political process is essential if we are ever going to have just policies in this country. As Ginger put it, events like today’s are a good “shot in the arm” for social justice activists. Time to get to work!Image

Franken and me     Two St. Joseph Workers (Tina Swanberg and Mary Pederson) close to the Senator!

Peace,

Mary

African-American History Month

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Events announced by the African-American History Month Committee for Saint Paul and Ramsey County

Friday, February 8:  including performances on “disparities, colorism and choices” by Central High School touring theater, noon-1:00 p.m.:  Saint Paul City Hall and Courthouse, 15 West Kellogg Boulevard, Room 40.

Friday, February 15:  including “Saint Paul Stories: An Abolitionist, an Athlete, a Journalist and a Lawyer” by Benjamin Mchie of the African-American Registry, noon – 1:00 p.m. at Ramsey County Government Center East, 160 East Kellogg Boulevard, Room 7600.

Friday, February 22:  including “Milestones in Civil Rights” by Mahmoud El-Kati, professor emeritus at Macalaster College, with lunch available for purchase at 11:30 a.m. and program from noon – 1:00 p.m. , City Hall and Courthouse Room 40.

MORE: Ordway Center for the Performance Arts: Sunday, February 17, Vocal Essence “WITNESS: Marion Anderson

STEPPINGSTONE THEATRE:  The Story of Ruby Bridges

Learn more about African-American History Month

More African-American History Month events:  Saint Paul Public Libraries

Posted by: Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Immigration Reform & Action

We in the CSJ Justice Office are closely watching the progression of immigration reform efforts in Congress. There are myriad issues with our current immigration system that need to be fixed: the lengthy visa backlog, the shortage of employment-based visas, the condition of our immigration detention system, and the lack of a system of legalization for the estimated 12 million undocumented people in this country, among many others. Addressing these parts of our broken system is imperative as a nation, and for the 95,000 Minnesotans that would be affected by a change in policy.

There are many economic reasons for Congress to move forward on immigration reform. More importantly, however, this is a matter of respecting human rights and human dignity. As legislation is brought forward, we will send out information and calls for action. In the meantime, we encourage you to follow efforts by our partners Justice for Immigrants and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Peace,

Mary Pederson, Justice Office