Jesse Ventura on Crime

Former Independent MN Governor; possible Presidential Challenger


Whistleblowers perform a public service; Snowden is a hero

A whistleblower is a criminal to the people he blows the whistle on. Snowden blew the whistle on the government. Naturally, the government is going to label him a criminal. I do believe all whistleblowers perform a public service. If you work for the government, and you see the government violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights -- or even violating its own laws -- it's imperative to blow the whistle. Snowden is a hero. No doubt about it.
Source: ORA.TV Off The Grid on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 2, 2016

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 death penalty because DNA proves too many mistakes

Given how many convicts awaiting capital punishment have been cleared because of DNA evidence, I no longer support the death penalty. Minnesota doesn't have this on the books, so I'm thankful for that, as governor, I never had to face the decision of whether to execute someone on death row. Again, I simply don't believe that government has the inherent right to make those kinds of choices.
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.187 , Apr 1, 2008

Presidential pardons: if you don't like it change the system

Q: What do you think of Clinton's pardons at the end of his term?

VENTURA: I think you need to look at the system. The president didn't really do anything wrong because our system allows him to pardon anybody. He could pardon Charles Manson if he so chose to do so. The president is given that much leeway to do it. President Clinton isn't the first one to pardon a controversial figure. Many, many presidents have done it. If you don't like the system, change the system.

Q: Would you change it?

VENTURA: Yes, I probably would. I think that it should go to more than one person to have that ability. You know, maybe possibly you would look at bringing in the chief justice of the Supreme Court and maybe the attorney general or whatever. I think maybe if you had three elected people or three different people, it might work a little better. But then again, I'm not at the federal level, so I might be out of line, too, in saying that.

Source: CNN coverage: interview on Larry Kind Live show , Mar 14, 2001

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

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Page last updated: Mar 20, 2021