Minutes from 4/9/21 Meeting

Commissioners Present:

  • Sheriff Michael J. Ashe
  • Senator William Brownsberger
  • Kate R. Cook
  • Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger
  • James Cowdell
  • Representative Michael Day
  • Commission of Probation Edward J. Dolan
  • Ben Forman
  • Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson
  • Emi Joy
  • James Morton
  • Thomas Preston
  • Representative Timothy R. Whelan

Commissioners Absent:

  • Christina Crowley
  • Senator Ryan Fattman
  • Gerard J. Horgan
  • Kevin Keefe
  • Francesca Spina
  • Michael Widmer

Senator Brownsberger reported that the meeting began on 4/9/21 at 11AM with a unanimous roll call to approve the draft minutes from the 3/5/21 meeting. The newest Commissioner, Jimmy Cowdell, was introduced.

Stephen Amos of NIC introduced Shaina Vanek, the acting director of the National Institute of Corrections. Stephen Amos then introduced Dr. Karen Albert to give an update as to the study. Dr. Albert commented that all agencies engaged in the study and have been thoroughly engaged in the training. NIC plans to have the training component piece completed by early-May, at which time each agency will take everything they have learned in training to run staffing analysis report and present to funding authority, which will provide feedback. There will then be a final presentation within the group by late May, and will be ready to present to the commission by June 1, 2021.

No questions were raised to Dr. Karen Albert.

Senator Brownsberger recognized Commissioners Preston and Dolan joining the meeting.

Senator Brownsberger recognized Ben Forman and Emi Joy for updates.

Ben Forman provided update that they have collected survey from all but one sheriff department and plan to run analysis in the coming weeks. Emi Joy added that survey is to provide context to ensure that the data analysis is not oversimplified and misrepresents important costs. The analysis will include breakdown of spending by category, as well as underlying numbers, and asked sheriffs to point out of the analysis miscategorized any sheriff spending so they can correct it in the analysis.

No questions were raised to Ben Forman or Emi Joy.

Senator Brownsberger stated that the next meeting will be on April 30th at 1PM, and that one agenda item will be this data analysis. There were no objections raised to the meeting time.

Representative Day thanked Carrie Hill, Ben Forman, and Emi Joy for their work on this, as well as to the sheriffs and staff for getting the survey data turned around in such short timeframe.

Senator Brownsberger recognized Carrie Hill. Carrie Hill reiterated thanks to the sheriffs and staff for the data turnaround. Carrie provided the update that the matrix with impact of Chapter 69 is now in front of each sheriff’s office, as well as DOC and have given a deadline for April 29th and this information should be available for the April 30th meeting.

Senator Brownsberger asked if Ben Forman and Emi Joy would analyze this data. Emi agreed to do this analysis as part of their larger analysis. Senator Brownsberger set a deadline for this data analysis presentation at the following meeting after the April 30th meeting, which will be planned for a month later. 

Carrie Hill provided update that they are still currently working on matrix capturing data about substance use and mental health services, including sheriff’s offices offering, cost, number of staff, type of funding mechanism, standards that are being followed, and if programs are evidence-based. They aim to get matrix finished in next couple of weeks, but will release the matrix to the sheriffs on April 29th.

Senator Brownsberger raised issue of analyzing substance use and mental health data and actual spending, as this information data will be very different from financial numbers that Ben Forman and Emi Joy are assembling. Senator Brownsberger asked which subcommittee would like to take on this task, which would include analyzing actual mental health and substance use disorder spending, as well as analyzing all discretionary programming offered in state prisons and house of corrections.

Kate Cook asked whether committee members will look at both substance use and mental health spending, as well as discretionary programming. Senator Brownsberger said that it should be same members due to large overlap between two issues.

Kate Cook said the Boston Bar Association is very interested in discretionary spending and volunteered to serve on this subcommittee, though does not have bandwidth to lead this subcommittee.

Representative Day thanked Kate for offering and volunteered his staff, Dianna Williams and Patrick Prendergast, to assist this subcommittee in data collection.

Ed Dolan agreed to serve on this subcommittee.

Senator Brownsberger asked if Kate Cook and Ed Dolan would lead this subcommittee with help of Representative Day’s staff, which Kate and Ed both agreed to do. Representative Day said that opportunity to serve on subcommittee should remain open for commission members who were not present, and both co-chairs hope that additional people will volunteer for this subcommittee during April 30th meeting.

Senator Brownsberger raised task of asset inventory. DCAM has provided physical asset list, but there is remaining question of other assets, including communications equipment, but what will process of compiling this inventory of assets?

Kevin Coppinger said that sheriffs submit annual report to A&F with all assets over $10,000 outside of physical equipment. Representative Day asked if this includes the assets outside of state-funded assets. Kevin Coppinger said it should include all assets regardless of funding source, but will follow up with an email and will work with Jimmy Cowdell and A&F to find this information. Representative Timothy Whelan urged commission to stay with existing data sources, which Senator Brownsberger agreed to.

Thomas Hodgeson asked what list will be used for. Representative Day said that commission is looking to make apples to apples comparisons, and that if any outliers are identified, to understand why this outlier exists. Senator Brownsberger added that currently, commission is compiling data, but there will be opportunities for public input at next phase after the data is collected.

Senator Brownsberger ran through status update of each task. NIC is doing real cost analysis for staffing ratio and employee costs, while Ben Forman and Emi Joy are doing ratio/cost analysis. Efficiencies and reduce fixed cost task will happen during discussion after data is collected, but the Commission is not currently working on this. Carrie Hill’s work is addressing the task of looking at actual mental health and substance use disorder services. Kate Cook and Ed Dolan will lead the tasks of reviewing all discretionary funding. Ben Forman and Emi Joy are responsible for analyzing impacts of Chapter 69. DCAM has provided fixed asset inventory, and Jimmy Cowdell will get information of other assets from A&F. Ben Forman and Emi Joy are also reviewing all funding sources. The commission will need to discuss what it will say about funding formula as part of its final discussion.

Kevin Coppinger said that Carrie Hill will also help with asset inventory list on behalf of the sheriffs. Senator Brownsberger asked if asset inventory extends to DOC, which Commissioner Preston clarified yes.

Senator Brownsberger raised April 30th meeting date and to plan next meeting at April 30th meeting depending where each task will remain. Representative Day agreed with the timeline and said that Commission should be prepared to begin meeting more than once a month following April 30th meeting as more data becomes available and analysis begins.

Senator Bownsberger motioned to adjourn, which Representative Day so moved. Senator Bownsberger forewent the roll call and adjourned the meeting.