Minutes from 1/8/21 Meeting

Special Commission on Correctional Funding
Friday, January 8, 2021, 11am-1pm
Meeting held via Zoom. Recording available here.

Representative Day opened the meeting and asked Caitlin Long from his office to call the roll of Commissioners. The following Commissioners were present:

Senator Brownsberger
Michael Widmer
Ben Forman
Representative Whelan
Emi Joy
Sheriff Coppinger
Sheriff Hodgson
James Morton
Commissioner Ed Dolan
Kevin Keefe
Kate Cooke
Gerard Horgan
Sheriff Ashe

The following Commissioners were not present:
Senator Fattman
Tom Preston
Gianni Maffeo
Christina Crowley
Francesca Spina

The Commission approved the minutes by roll call unanimously among those present and voting.

Representative Day asked Anne Landry from Senator Brownsberger’s office to provide an update from NIC. Anne Landry relayed her conversation with Chief Amos from the National Institute of Corrections (“NIC”), who explained that the solicitation would close on January 15th. At this time, NIC had not received any responses, which it did not consider unusual. The solicitation is available on www.usagrants.gov, as well as the Commission website. Ms. Landry included the link to the solicitation in the Zoom chat: http://correctionalfunding.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/21JD02-Staffing-VILT-Curriculum-Dev-and-Pilot-FINAL.pdf.

Representative Day asked Commissioners Ben Forman and Emi Joy to provide an update on the survey they are preparing. Commissioner Forman shared his screen to share the draft of the survey. Commissioners Forman and Joy provided an overview of the survey. Commissioner Joy described the survey as simple but functional. She explained that it is not calling out FTE or staff time, but that it would be helpful to get this information from departments.

Representative Day agreed with the plan to “set the table” with a call with recipients of survey, which he described as important. Senator Brownsberger asked whether this survey would allow the Commissioners to better interpret data they already have access to. Commissioner Joy confirmed that intention. Representative Day expressed the goal of getting an apples-to-apples comparison.

Sheriff Coppinger stated that the fact that sheriffs get a lot of grants should be clear. He suggested the Commissioners work with Carrie Hill, Executive Director to the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, to finetune the survey and standardize reporting.

Commissioner Morton asked if there is a place that captures travel expenses and use of video conference systems with the Trial Court. Commissioner Joy indicated this survey would not capture that

Carrie Hill indicated in the chat that she would be happy to coordinate with Commissioners Joy and Forman as well as with the CFOs from the individual Sheriffs’ Offices.

Senator Brownsberger asked about the timeline. Commissioner Forman indicated that the next step would be to reach out to Carrie Hill and confirm how to organize meetings with finance folks from different agencies. From there, Commissioner Forman indicated he would hope to set something up with agencies by the end of the month.

Commissioner Cook thanked Commissioners Joy and Forman for their work on moving this forward towards getting an apples-to-apples comparison.

Representative Day invited the Commission to look at the charge and brainstorm who would like to take on what.

Senator Brownsberger suggested the Commission walk through the charge, which he brought up on his screen and shared. The Commission discussed how they were meeting or needed to continue to work to meet the charge. The Senator asked how we were working to evaluate discretionary programming and geographic disparities. Ms. Landry shared that the sheriffs had previously provided us with a list of their program offerings, which she shared in the chat, but the Commission has not analyzed it. The Senator suggested the next step would be to review this; Commissioners Forman and Joy conveyed their willingness to do this and to compare the counties’ programming at least at a high level. The Senator, drawing from a comment in the chat, indicated it would be useful to know how many people each program serves and to put data already received into a framework. Senator Brownsberger suggested an analysis of chapter 69 of the Acts of 2018 is prohibitively difficult for right now and thinks the DCAMM study might discharge part of the Commission’s charge. Representatives Day and Whelan suggested we put the question to the DOC and sheriffs whether the DCAMM presentation would be agreed to by DOC and the sheriffs. Senator Brownsberger thought DCAMM may already be doing that, which Commissioner Joy confirmed. Representative Day asked that the final Commission product include this work by DCAMM. Sheriff Coppinger mentioned in the chat that the updated program lists are due to the EOPSS from sheriffs next week. Senator Brownsberger asked whether revenue sources are within the survey. Commissioner Joy indicated they are not but that they can try to tackle that. Sheriff Hodgson asked that the revenue analysis include immigration revenues coming in. The Senator hoped that the Commissioners’ work in analyzing programming would fulfill the charge to analyze recidivism reduction efforts.

Representative Day asked whether we should create subgroups or create another structure for analysis. He asked Commissioners to plan to have an informed discussion on this topic for the next meeting. Commissioner Cook suggested we wait for more data to come back and then work in subgroups, as Representative Day had proposed.

Senator Brownsberger suggested the Commission plan to meet every 4 weeks or so.

Sheriff Horgan conveyed that he had created a survey he created while working from MSA of impact of chapter 69 on the sheriffs’ department, which he promised to share. The Senator indicated it would be posted on the website.

Senator Brownsberger identified two questions that appeared in a question and answer formatthat he believed relate to our particular analysis: how work programs relate to programming (how are we accounting for that?); and whether the Commission will analyze programming at different security levels at the DOC. The Senator asked if he could leave these thoughts with Commissioners Forman and Joy.

The Commission decided to meet again on February 5 at 1pm.

The Commission adjourned. The Commission discussed keeping the Zoom open to take questions from audience and Representative Day thanked Commissioners Joy and Forman for their work. The Senator indicated he would end the Zoom meeting to avoid the risk of conducting business as a quorum following adjournment and suggested instead scheduling a question-and-answer portion of the meeting on a future agenda.