Minutes from 4/30/21 Meeting

(virtual meeting)

Chairman Day welcomed members and provided brief opening remarks.

Roll Call Taken.

  • Commissioners Present:
  • Chairman Day
  • Chairman Brownsberger
  • Kate R. Cook
  • James Cowdell
  • Edward J. Dolan
  • Ben Forman
  • Emi Joy
  • Thomas Preston
  • Gerard J. Horgan
  • Kevin Keefe
  • Michael Widmer
  • Commissioners Absent:
  • Michael J. Ashe (John D’Angelo appeared on his behalf)
  • Kevin F. Coppinger
  • Thomas M. Hodgson
  • James Morton
  • Timothy R. Whelan
  • Christina Crowley
  • Ryan Fattman
  • Francesca Spina

Motion to accept minutes circulated for April 9, 2021 meeting. Seconded by Chairman Brownsberger. Roll call taken. Commissioner Keefe abstained because he was not present at the previous meeting. Remaining members present voted yes.

Chairman Brownsberger started recording.

The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) was then welcomed in for an update. Stephen Amos from NIC gave brief introductory comments, introduced his team, and turned it over to Dr. Karen Albert. Dr. Albert provided an update on the status and remaining timeline of the training project.  She opined that final reports could be completed in about three weeks, at which point presentations could be made. Chairman Day thanked NIC and they left the meeting.

Chairman Day welcomed Carrie Hill from the Massachusetts Sheriff Association who shared the updated Chapter 69 Matrix, which outlines the cost of implementing Chapter 69 of the Acts of 2018 for thirteen sheriffs’ At the Chairs’ request, Ms. Hill walked through the numbers provided by Hampden County as an example. John D’Angelo (appearing on Commissioner Ashe’s behalf) of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office offered further context for the numbers.

Chairman Brownsberger stated that it would be helpful to get some further granularity on the different costs. He asked Ms. Hill if it would be possible to come to an annualized cost and a further breakdown at each facility. Ms. Hill, Mr. D’Angelo, and Commissioner Preston advised that they could. Chairman Day agreed that an individualized breakdown of cost would be helpful for the report.

Chairman Brownsberger asked Ms. Hill if the Chapter 69 Matrix is ready for public viewing. Ms. Hill said yes as long as the Commission was satisfied with the level of detail. Chairman Brownsberger thought it could be posted on the Commission website. Chairman Day suggested that it be noted that the matrix posted is a draft and not the final project.

Commissioner Forman opined that it would be helpful for the Commission to have the CFOs’ take on savings they have experienced from the significant reduction in population since the implementation of G.L. 69. Commissioner Joy noted that the biggest decline was in FY21, this matrix covers FY 19-20 primarily, and many costs have stayed the same. Carrie Hill noted that, while incarcerated populations are down, facilities require more staff because they are more spread out. Mr. D’Angelo agreed. Commissioner Preston also noted that the number of diagnosed substance abuse and mental health disorders is up, which leads to increased costs. Commissioner Joy added that the rising cost of health care also adds to the higher costs of facilities.

Chairman Day thanked Ms. Hill for her work on the Chapter 69 Matrix, advised that the draft matrix would be posted once received, and noted that the Commission would circle back with her on the additional information requested.

Ms. Hill then gave an update on the status of the Substance Use and Mental Health Matrix outlining the information she is requesting in a survey to then include in the matrix. Chairman Day thanked Ms. Hill for her work.

Chairman Day noted that the Mental Health, Substance Use, and Discretionary Funding Subcommittee consists of Commissioners Dolan, Cook, and Morton, along with Ms. Hill and indicated that the Subcommittee would welcome other Commissioners to join. He further stated that the draft survey for the Substance Use and Mental Health Matrix which Mrs. Hill presented would be reviewed and edited by the Subcommittee. Commissioner Cook confirmed that the Subcommittee would meet to review the reports and data available. Commissioner Horgan volunteered to join the Subcommittee.  

Chairman Day opened the conversation to any other questions regarding the Subcommittee. No one had any questions. Chairman Day expressed his optimism about the Subcommittee moving forward and offered his staff to assist as needed.

Commissioners Joy and Forman then provided an update on their work by sharing a PowerPoint entitled “Preliminary Discussion of Health and Program Services Expenditure.” They reviewed the health and program services section of charge, outlined the issue with different object codes used by facilities, and explained they tried to compare programs with these codes. Commissioner Forman then went through his initial analysis on health and program services expenditures for FY2019 by county. Commissioner Preston asked which specific agencies participated. Commissioner Forman answered that all agencies excluding DOC received the survey, since Commissioner Joy has access to their data.

Commissioners Joy and Forman then stated that their staffing ratio and employee costs analysis was complete but they are still verifying classification data. Chairman Day asked when they expected to finalize this analysis. Commissioner Forman stated that he would like to have it done for next month’s meeting but does not know if that is realistic. Ms. Hill agreed, noting the various outstanding tasks for sheriffs, and said she would plan to meet with the CFOs next week to get a better idea of turnaround. 

Chairman Brownsberger then reviewed and updated the task matrix for the Commission.

Chairman Brownsberger asked for an update on the A&F Inventory. Commissioner Cowdell noted that the asset inventories mentioned by Commissioner Coppinger at a prior meeting did not go to A&F but may be at the comptroller’s office. Ms. Hill confirmed that the inventories were with the comptroller’s office and offered to assemble them for the commission.  

Carrie Hill noted that the Mental Health and Substance Use Matrix should be finalized and distributed during the first week of May.

Commissioner Cook advised that the Mental Health, Substance Use, and Discretionary Spending Subcommittee will meet, see what information they have, and determine whether any additional data is needed and offered to provide feedback at the next Commission meeting.

Chairman Brownsberger confirmed that additional information requested for the Chapter 69 Matrix would be available for the next meeting.

Chairman Day asked members to tentatively hold June 4 for the NIC presentation and June 11 for a regular Commission meeting. Commissioner Widmer expressed a preference for 1pm on the 11th. Chairman Day said he would confirm these dates after he circles back with NIC.

Chairman Brownsberger asked for clarification on the summer schedule. He believes that most elements on the task matrix are almost complete and projected that data will be completed by June or early July and that public input opportunities and Commission discussions would be beneficial in July and August, as they prepare the final report for September. Chairman Day agreed and suggested that the Commission discussion occur in July prior to a public meeting in August.

Chairman Brownsberger shared his optimism about the report but noted that work still needs to be done. Chairman Day agreed.

Chairman Brownsberger made the motion to adjourn. Commissioner Cook seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved, and the meeting adjourned.