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Jesse Ventura on Crime

Former Independent MN Governor


Watch out for DNA Fingerprint Act's biometrics

A provision was slipped into the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill at the end of 2005. It's the DNA Fingerprint Act, meaning that if you get arrested at a demonstration on federal property, they can take a sample of your DNA and keep it on permanent file. This fits nicely with a billion-dollar FBI project to have a massive computer database containing individuals' physical characteristics. They call this biometrics, and it gives the government a brand-new opportunity to identify folks at home and abroad. They're storing digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm types in a climate-controlled underground facility in Clarksburg, West Virginia. They'll soon be crime-stopping even by analyzing the way we walk and talk. At some airports, people who aren't line-standers at the metal detectors are taking advantage of the "opportunity" to have their irises scanned to prove they've passed a background check (that's called Next Generation Identification).
Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.197 , Mar 8, 2010

Opposes ďThree StrikesĒ; leave discretion to judges

Iím against legislation that puts the state or federal government on the position of caring for somebody for life for trivial reasons. Thatís why Iím opposed to the Three Strikes law, as itís now written. We should be prosecuting felons severely the firs time around. If somebody has done a violent crime and served his time, you donít then put him away forever for stealing cookies. Mandatory sentences are awful. They take power away from judges. Judges should be allowed a certain amount of discretion. They should be able to treat each case individually.

Three Strikes would work fine if it put people away for three violent felonies. But itís a stupid waste of taxpayersí money otherwise. Plus, it causes a backup in our court system, because nobody who gets caught a third time wants to plead guilty and face certain life in prison. Legislators love tough-sounding programs like Three Strikes; unfortunately, it makes them look good at campaign time, but it causes us more problems afterwards.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.157-8 , Jul 2, 2000

Crime statistics are distorted to encourage racism

There are dangerously racist overtones in a lot of what the extreme Right has to say. They know that much of America still has a sore spot where race is concerned, and many of them like to peddle their agenda by picking at that sore spot. One example is the way they encourage racism by distorting crime statistics in minority communities, especially statistics dealing with drugs and violent crime. Many folks on the far Right love to play off the public paranoia they help create.
Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p. 50-51 , Jul 2, 2000

No role for governor in crime; itís for local police

People are always shocked when they ask me what I plan to do about crime as governor and my answer comes back as ďNothing!Ē Does the issue of crime need to be addressed? You bet it does. But, just as with many other social issues, I donít think that legislation is the most effective arena in which to fight crime. We already have tons of laws on the books. Most of those laws would work more effectively if we just enforced them better.

As governor, there isnít a lot I can do beyond that to crack down on crime. Law enforcement is really a local issue. Itís the copsí job to tighten down on criminals.

Politicians always like to say ďIím gonna fight crime!Ē because it makes them sound great and gets them votes. But what can a politician do to fight crime?

Why, for example, do we let criminals out for good behavior? I think they should set it up so that if your sentence is three years and you misbehave, youíll do five! Thatís the mind-set we need.

Source: Ainít Got Time To Bleed, p. 36 , Jan 1, 1999

Put up with death penalty until life sentences mean life

How come life in prison doesnít mean life? Until it does, weíre not ready to do away with the death penalty. Stop thinking in terms of ďpunishmentĒ for a minute and think in terms of safeguarding innocent people from incorrigible murderers. Americans have a right to go about their lives without worrying about these people being back out on the street. So until we can make sure theyíre off the street permanently, we have to grit our teeth and put up with the death penalty. So we need to work toward making a life sentence meaningful again. If life meant life, I could, if youíll excuse the pun, live without the death penalty.

We donít have it here in Minnesota, thank God, and I wonít advocate to get it. But I will advocate to make life in prison mean life. I donít think I would want the responsibility for enforcing the death penalties. Thereís always the inevitable question of whether someone you gave the order to execute might truly have been innocent.

Source: Ainít Got Time To Bleed, p. 37 , Jan 1, 1999

Supported death penalty, but now as Governor opposes it

Federal law pre-empts state law. Although Minnesota does not have the death penalty under its laws, the sentence does exist in Minnesota under certain federal laws. Until a sentence of life in prison always actually means life in prison without possibility of parole, we can not eliminate the death penalty.

Note: After taking office, Gov. Ventura changed his mind on the death penalty. Extradition orders are frequently signed by the Governor. As he began signing these orders, Gov. Ventura began to think about how he could just as easily be signing orders to commute the death penalty. Then he noted how often it seems to occur that a person originally found guilty is later proven to be innocent, especially with DNA evidence. He noted that you cannot undo the mistake if an innocent person is put to death. He now opposes the death penalty. He continues to believe that a life sentence should mean that the convict will spend the rest of his or her life in prison with no possibility of parole.

Source: 1998 campaign web site, jesseVentura.org/98campaign , Nov 1, 1998

Find compromise between rehabilitation and punishment

Q: Will you support the transformation of our incarceration system to true rehabilitation?

A: Yes. We need to find a happy medium between rehabilitation and punishment. Our prisons should not be a place where anyone is happy to go to. No one should feel there is a reward for criminal behavior. On the other hand, if an inmate truly wants to be rehabilitated and change their ways, we should make it possible for that to happen.

Source: Questionnaire from the Coalition of Black Churches , Aug 29, 1998

Supports flexible federal block grants for crime programs.

Ventura adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

NGAís Position

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA10 on Sep 14, 2001

Other governors on Crime: Jesse Ventura on other issues:
MN Gubernatorial:
Mark Dayton
MN Senatorial:
Al Franken
Amy Klobuchar

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011