Minutes from 11/6/20 Meeting

Special Commission on Correctional Funding 
November 6, 2020 11am-1pm

Commissioners Present:

  • Representative Michael Day, Co-chair, Appointed by the Speaker
  • Senator Will Brownsberger, Co-chair, Appointed by the Senate President
  • Michael Widmer, Appointed by the Speaker
  • Ben Forman, MassINC, Appointed by the Senate President
  • Emi Joy, EOPSS CFO, Appointed by the Secretary of EOPSS
  • Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger, Appointed by the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association
  • Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, Appointed by the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association
  • James Morton, Appointed by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court
  • Kevin Keefe, Appointed by the Chair of the Parole Board
  • Christina Crowley, Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney, Appointed by the Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Kate R. Cook, Sugarman Rogers, Appointed by the Boston Bar Association
  • Francesca Spina, Ph.D., Appointed by the Governor
  • Sheriff Michael J. Ashe, Jr., Appointed by the Governor
  • Thomas Preston, Deputy Commissioner of Administration, Appointed by the Commissioner of the Department of Correction

Commissioners Absent:

Documents Discussed:
9/11/20 Draft Minutes
NIC Proposal

Senator Brownsberger began the recording of the meeting.

Representative and Commission Co-Chair Michael Day called the meeting to order and asked the Commissioners to introduce themselves: Senator and Commission Co-Chair William N. Brownsberger, Jim Morton of the Trial Court, Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger, (retired) Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, Mike Widmer (appointed by the Speaker of the House), Kate Cook (appointed by the Boston Bar Association), Christina Crowley (appointed by the Massachusetts Bar Association), Ben Forman (appointed by the Senate President), Kevin Keefe (appointed by the Chair of the Parole Board), CFO Emi Joy of EOPSS, and Professor Francesca Spina (appointed by the Governor).

Chair Day introduced legislative staff members Anne Landry and Caitlin Long, as well as Mike Jackson and Stephen Amos of the National Institute of Correction.

Sheriff Hodgson joined the meeting.

The Commission approved the draft minutes from 9/11/20 by roll call vote; Kate Cook and Francesca Spina abstained but it was otherwise unanimous among all those present.

Stephen Amos introduced NIC’s proposal and Representative Day opened the floor for discussion. Sheriff Coppinger indicated he thought it was a good proposal and was looking forward to getting it done. He currently had no specific questions but may later. Representative Day expressed his appreciation for the proposal’s flexibility and creativity. Kate Cook inquired as to the time frame for the proposal. Representative Day deferred to Stephen Amos, who indicated that they had built flexibility into the proposal but aimed to have the contract “on the streets” in early December, with an eye towards awarding the contract in January. They would plan to validate the data and make it available to the Commission in the form of a report for June 1, 2021.

Ben Forman asked that NIC build into the process the ability for the public to understand the methodology so they can understand the results. Stephen Amos indicated NIC does not have any constraints in their agency regarding information-sharing and would support whatever the Commission wanted to do. Ben Forman asked if NIC could advise the Commission on protocols relative to information-sharing. Stephen Amos indicated that NIC has not done that before. Mike Widmer asked how often it would make sense for the Commission to get reports from NIC regarding the process. Stephen Amos indicated that NIC can already disseminate the curriculum but would not want their actual trainings to be interfered with. Senator Brownsberger suggested monthly updates from NIC for the Commission and to also provide the participating public some visibility.

Stephen Amos indicated that NIC’s next step is its statement of work if the Commission wanted to move forward with a cooperative agreement. In that document, he said, NIC will set out a plan for major milestones and updates. Another option they could pursue would be listening sessions with interested groups/stakeholders. Ultimately, Stephen Amos indicated that how to disseminate information is a decision for the Commission to make.

Sheriff Ashe indicated that monthly updates from the NIC and sheriffs would be key.

Ben Forman suggested that while updates to the Commission may be sufficient, this process may also require meeting with stakeholders and holding listening session. He recalled the CSG process, in which the consultants met with outside stakeholders.

Kate Cook indicated she shared Ben’s concerns.

Senator Brownsberger expressed that transparency is important.

NIC representatives indicated that Commissioners would be welcome to attend the trainings but NIC is reluctant to open up the process to interference.

Representative Day called for a roll call vote and the NIC proposal was adopted unanimously among all those present and voting.

Senator Brownsberger asked NIC if their staffing analysis will look at staffing for programming or medication assisted treatment. Stephen Amos indicated it would not; it would just look at staffing relative to custodial needs/safety and security.

The Chairs indicated that between the numbers we have from A&F and MassInc, the Commission may not need to hire an outside consultant. The Commission discussed having Ben Forman review what has already been done and to identify if we need to do more and/or what gaps we need to fill. Emi Joy indicated that DOC would be willing to meet with Ben Forman. Ben Forman indicated it could be useful contribution of Commission if they were able to achieve uniformity across object codes. The sheriffs indicated they would be willing to work with Ben Forman on data as well.

Representative Day indicated that the ultimate goal is to get to an apples-to-apples comparison and he views this next step as necessary.

Mike Widmer indicated that central to our charge is reviewing programming to help with reintegration, beyond just health care. It is very hard to track this in object codes. He asked what each institution is doing in this area (in the area of education, to take one example). This is a key focus area for the BBA, said Kate Cook.

Senator Brownsberger asked what the status was of DCAMM’s analysis of facilities and whether DCAMM could present to the Commission. Emi Joy indicated that she had followed up on this inquiry since the last Commission meeting and that questions are out to the vendor. There are data issues across institutions. She anticipated that DCAMM could present to the Commission next month.

Tom Preston joined the meeting at 12:04pm.

The Commission agreed to meet again on 12/4, with the plan that Ben Forman would be in touch with DOC and the sheriffs in advance and Emi Joy would work on lining up DCAMM for a presentation.

The Commission voted unanimously among all those present to adjourn.