Minutes from 3/6/20 Meeting

Special Commission on Correctional Funding
State House, Room 428
Boston, MA 02133
March 6, 2020, 11am

Meeting Minutes

Commissioners Present:
William N. Brownsberger, Senate Chair
Michael Day, House Chair
Mike Widmer
Ben Forman
Emi Joy
Thomas Preston
Gianni Maffeo
Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger
Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson
James Morton
Kevin Keefe
Christina Crowley
Kate R. Cook
Francesca Spina (via remote participation)
Gerard J. Horgan
Sheriff Michael J. Ashe (ret)

Commissioners Absent:
Representative Timothy R. Whelan
Senator Ryan Fattman
Commissioner Edward J. Dolan

Documents Reviewed:

3/6/20 Meeting Agenda

Draft Minutes from 2/14/20 Meeting 

NIC Memorandum

NIC Statement of Work

After convening the meeting, the Commissioners unanimously (among those present) approved a motion to allow Commissioner Francesca Spina to participate remotely.

The Commission approved draft minutes from the 2/14/20 meeting unanimously among all those present.

National Institute of Corrections representatives, Chief Stephen Amos, Mike Jackson, [and Rod Miller?], reviewed the contents of the NIC memorandum and statement of work with the Commissioners.

Sheriff Ashe expressed his interest in having the Commission look at staffing analysis as well as ensuring that correctional facilities are humane environments.

NIC representatives explained that NIC teaches people to do staffing analysis but that NIC does not do it themselves. Instead, they utilize a peer-to-peer learning method where NIC does not “own the numbers.” Sheriffs’ departments would have to build their own capacity for ongoing staffing analysis.

The Commission discussed that a change in the mission of the Commission would require buy-in from sheriffs, DOC/EOPSS, and legislative leadership.

Representative Day indicated that staffing analysis addressed but one part of the Commission’s charge- that it could be a recommendation of the Commission or it could be something the sheriffs’ departments and the Department of Correction could undertake on their own.

The Commission discussed going back to legislative leadership, the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, and the Commissioners’ appointing authorities to review the charge and reconvene.

NIC representatives described the biggest question that staffing analysis is designed to address as the following: “What is effective inmate supervision?” This can present a challenge. Unions can get involved. In Toledo, they ended up moving away from mandatory minimum staffing.

Ben Forman suggested that the Commission does not have to take this circuitous path, that the Commission should take on its mandate directly. Mike Widmer reflected that the Commission’s mandate is very broad.

Kate Cook explained that the Boston Bar Association is particularly interested in programming.

Sheriff Ashe mentioned that the DOC and the sheriffs do not usually work together but hopes the Commission will issue recommendations for them to work together to maximize correctional dollars.

Mike Widmer explained that the Commission’s mission is both fiscal and programmatic and wondered if staffing analysis looked at not only safety and security but also programming. He expressed a preference for continuing the Commission in the same fashion.

Senator Brownsberger invited public comment. Mary Valerio expressed concerns on behalf of prisoners and Dr. Michelle Fior [?] expressed her view that their should be a competitive bid process for a consultant, rather than utilizing the National Institute of Corrections.

Because there was confusion as to which version of minutes were approve, the Commission voted again unanimously among those present to clarify that the 2-14-20 minutes that they approved were those that appeared on the Commission website.

The Commission planned to meet again on March 20, 2020.