ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, Dec. 21, announced that the state would form a council to improve outcomes for Minnesotans on probation and supervised release.

In an executive order, the governor established the 15-member Governor's Council on Justice Reinvestment which is set to be comprised of lawmakers, judges, county and tribal officials and representatives of the criminal justice system and the public. The group is set to examine Minnesota's spending for probation and community supervision to evaluate whether funds could be sent out more equitably.

The effort is part of the federally-funded Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a project aimed at using data to reduce recidivism, improve public safety and bring down corrections-related spending.

“To keep Minnesota a great place for kids to grow up, we need safe neighborhoods and communities,” Walz said in a news release. “For that to happen, we must deal with crime and violence in ways that are grounded in data and research, not politics. This initiative will bring together leaders from across the state – and from both sides of the aisle – to build data-driven policies that will make Minnesota’s criminal justice system more effective, fair, and equitable.”

Here are the initial appointees set to serve on the council:

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  • State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, is set to co-chair the group.
  • Kevin Reese, co-founder and co-executive director of Until We Are All Free, will also co-chair the group.
  • Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell
  • State Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville
  • State Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul
  • State Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River
  • Jason Anderson, Itasca County probation director

  • Catherine Johnson, Hennepin County Community Corrections and Rehabilitation Department director
  • John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney
  • Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Frisch
  • Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie
  • Kelly Lyn Mitchell, Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission member and Executive Director of the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
  • Jack Swanson, Roseau County Commissioner and Association of Minnesota Counties Public Safety Chair
  • Dr. Yohuru Williams, Distinguished University Chair, Professor of History, and Founding Director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas
  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Chairman Kevin DuPuis

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com