Minutes from 9/11/20 Meeting

Special Commission on Correctional Funding 
September 11, 2020 1-3pm 

Documents Reviewed, Referenced, or Available at Meeting:
Draft Minutes from 3/6/20
Review of Commission’s Charge
Zoom Chat

Commissioners Present:
Representative Michael Day
Senator Brownsberger
Ben Forman
Representative Timothy Whelan
Thomas Preston
Sheriff Kevin Coppinger
Sheriff Thomas Hodgson
James Morton
Edward Dolan
Kevin Keefe
Christina Crowley (joined at approximately 2:25 pm)
Emi Joy (joined 1:37pm)
Gerard Horgan
Sheriff Michael Ashe (at beginning of meeting)

Commissioners Absent: 
Senator Ryan Fattman
Gianni Maffeo
Michael Widmer
Kate Cook
Francesca Spina

The Commission convened shortly after 1pm through Zoom. Senator Brownsberger asked his Chief Counsel, Anne Landry, to call the roll of Commissioners. All were present but for Sen Fattman, Emi Joy (who later joined the meeting at 1:37pm), Gianni Maffeo, Mike Widmer, Christina Crowley (who later joined the meeting at approximately 2:25pm), Kate Cook, and Francesca Spina.

Representatives from the National Institute of Correction (NIC) introduced themselves: Mike Jackson, Stephen Amos, Glenn Watson, and Scott Richards.

Representative Day raised the question whether the Commission should record its meetings on Zoom. Sheriff Coppinger moved that the Commission record and publish their Zoom meetings and Commissioner Dolan seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous by roll call among all those present. The recording was subsequently turned on.

Senator Brownsberger inquired as to whether there were any objections to the draft minutes. The link to the draft minutes was made available on the website and in the Zoom chat. No objections were raised.

Representative Day provided an legislative update: the deadline for the Commission has been extended until September 1, 2021. He relayed that the plan is to move forward with the NIC process.

Stephen Amos explained how COVID-19 has changed the way in which NIC can provide technical assistance. NIC is committed to providing staffing analysis training to Massachusetts correctional facilities. The challenge has been: how to provide said training in a virtual environment? NIC’s goal is to gain the Commission’s concurrence and will develop an implementation plan, and send to the Commission for approval. They believe they can conduct the staffing analysis training for 4 facilities and send a report from NIC to the Commission by May 1, 2021.

Glenn Watson indicated that traditionally, this staffing analysis implementation would take place in person over the course of 36 hours, NIC having spent some time in facility to get an idea of what it would take to conduct field work. But there was no follow-up or coaching from NIC. In the new virtual model NIC is offering to Massachusetts, coaching will be provided in between periods of instruction. It should take approximately two months from the time of training to submit the draft report.

Stephen Amos and Mike Jackson provided some additional details: contractors would help provide training. For the duration of the contract, these NIC contractors would be made available to other jurisdictions in Massachusetts- to all houses of correction and to DOC facilities. Each team (per facility) will have a dedicated coach and instructor.

Tom Preston inquired whether they were proposing to provide this training to all DOC facilities. Mike Jackson confirmed that they are only looking at 4 facilities to start (3 jails and one DOC facility).

With no federal budget in sight, NIC will be operating on a continuing resolution. There is a slight possibility there will be funding issue, but leadership has committed to moving forward with this effort with the resources we have.

Sheriff Hodgson indicated he was excited about the proposal- that it will “show us our staffing needs” based on staffing best practices and will help the legislature “understand our need” for funding.

Sheriff Coppinger indicated he believed the NIC approach was the right way to go. He agrees with the model of teams working in-house to get data with the availability of NIC coaches to validate the process.

Senator Brownsberger said he would entertain a motion to move forward with the NIC pilot for four facilities with a formal agreement between NIC and the Commission, with NIC to bring written proposal to next meeting of Commission.

Ben Forman asked if this was a self-assessment by the facilities. NIC and several Commissioners agreed it was a self-assessment. Senator Brownsberger indicated it is a starting point. Sheriff Coppinger mentioned having this be a self-assessment is partially a security issue. Sheriff Coppinger and Tom Preston echoed similar concerns.

Emi Joy posed the question whether some of the briefing and training materials could be shared with the public.

Ben Forman said he was thinking more about data-sharing with another consultant as opposed to the public.

Sen Brownsberger suggested the Commission not make a decision today about what in the NIC process is public. He proposed a motion that the Commission endorse the general direction laid out by NIC. The motion was adopted unanimously by roll call among those present (at this point, Emi Joy had joined the meeting, Sheriff Ashe had left the meeting, and Christina Crowley had not yet joined the meeting).

The Commission approved the draft minutes among those present with a roll call vote. It was unanimous among those present (at this point, Emi Joy had joined the meeting, Sheriff Ashe had left the meeting, and Christina Crowley had not yet joined the meeting). 

The Commission reviewed the charge of the Commission. DCAMM is doing an analysis of correctional facilities’ physical assets. Emi Joy will formally request a status update from DCAMM. The Commission is envisioning a possible future presentation by DCAMM to the Commission. The Commission discussed whether they should retain a consultant to conduct quantitative analysis.

NIC was told they could leave the call, with the Commission planning to reconvene some time in mid-October.

Representative Day indicated the sooner the Commission gets moving on a data review, the easier the Commission’s work will be overall. The Commission decided to have the Chairs and Emi Joy touch base with ANF to ascertain what data and analysis are already available. If the Commission is able to pull the data from ANF, they may not need to hire a consultant. The Chairs and Emi Joy will report back to the Commission at the next meeting.

The Commissioners confirmed that meeting on Fridays generally works for people.

The Commissioners unanimously adopted a motion to adjourn by roll call vote (at which point, Sheriff Ashe had left the meeting and Emi Joy and Christina Crowley had joined). Senator Brownsberger offered to keep the Zoom room open to take questions from attendees to answer questions about the free prison phone calls bill he had sponsored, having seen related questions in the Zoom chat.