Minutes from 10/6 Meeting

Special Commission on Correctional Funding Minutes
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
(virtual meeting)

Commissioners Present:

  • Chair Brownsberger
  • Commissioner Ben Forman
  • Commissioner Michael Widmer
  • Commissioner Timothy Whelan
  • Commissioner Thomas Preston
  • Commissioner James Cowdell
  • Commissioner Kevin Coppinger
  • Commissioner James Morton
  • Commissioner Ed Dolan
  • Commissioner Kevin Keefe
  • Commissioner Kate Cook
  • Commissioner Gerard Horgan
  • Commissioner Michael Ashe

Commissioners Absent:

  • Chair Day
  • Commissioner Thomas Hodgson – Jonathan Darling served as proxy
  • Commissioner Ryan Fattman
  • Commissioner Emi Joy
  • Commissioner Christina Crowley
  • Commissioner Francesca Spina

Chair Brownsberger welcomed a motion to approve minutes from the September 10, 20201, meeting. Commissioner Widmer moved and Commissioner Cook seconded. Roll taken, with all present members approving said minutes.

The Commission then reviewed the task matrix.

The Commission began with staffing ratios and employee costs. Commissioner Forman noted that all staff data had been received and reviewed by DOC/Sheriff agencies except Bristol and Suffolk counties. Jonathan Darling, representing Commissioner Hodgson, agreed to follow up. Carrie Hill also said that she would follow up with the offices that had not responded and circulate an updated chart from Commissioner Forman.

The Commission moved to programming and substance use and mental health services. Carrie Hill reported that the programming and substance use and mental health matrices were complete and that the Substance Use and Mental Health Subcommittee would begin meeting with each individual agency to review the data.

The Commission then reviewed physical assets. Carrie Hill and Commissioner Preston reported that asset inventories for DOC and each Sheriff’s department were completed and submitted to the Commission. Commissioner Preston said that DOC was also still working on the report for Commissioner Forman but should be finished by next week.

The Commission then moved on to funding sources. Commissioner Forman said that this was complete. Carrie Hill asked that the table be resent to each Sheriff/DOC agency for final review and approval.

This completed the review of the task matrix.

The Commission then discussed which work products of the Commission may be posted publicly versus shared internally.

The Commission began with documents related to the NIC staffing analysis pilot program, including NIC Executive Summary, 4 Sheriff/DOC Executive Summaries, and 4 Sheriff/DOC Staffing Analyses. Sheriffs/DOC previously objected to the Staffing Analyses being posted publicly due to security concerns. Chair Brownsberger agreed that this data should not be posted publicly and asked if there were any objections to the Staffing Analyses being shared with Commissioners. Commissioner Coppinger did not oppose, but Commissioner Preston stated that he would only feel comfortable sharing the Staffing Analyses with the Chairs and the three Sheriff Commissioners. 

Chair Brownsberger tabled the Staffing Analyses discussion and proposed that the Sheriff/DOC agencies create executive summaries of their analyses to post publicly. Commissioner Whelan shared Commissioners Preston and Coppinger’s security concerns and supported the idea of creating Executive Summaries. Carrie Hill noted that the NIC Executive Summary was designed to be a public document and included in the report. She also noted that each participating agency already drafted an executive summary of their staffing analysis. She recommended that these Executive Summaries be distributed publicly after final approval from each agency.

Chair Brownsberger proposed the following motion:

  • NIC Executive Summary, which was prepared by NIC with the intention of being posted publicly, be sent to Commissioners and be posted publicly;
  • Sheriff/DOC Executive Summaries be reviewed, approved by Sheriffs/DOC, and posted publicly; and
  • Sheriff/DOC Staffing Analyses only be reviewed by the Chairs.

Commissioner Forman expressed concern over voting without first seeing the Executive Summaries or validating them with full staffing analysis data. Commissioner Widmer agreed with Commissioner Forman, noting that he has a public duty as a Commissioner and needs to see enough of the underlying analysis to understand what he is voting on.

Chair Brownsberger said that this is a very important point and clarified that this motion is just for the time being. After the Sheriffs/DOC produce their Executive Summaries, Commissioners will be able to review them to determine how informative and helpful they are. The Chairs will compare the Executive Summaries with the underlying Staffing Analyses. Then Commissioners can have a further discussion on whether they feel sufficiently informed on this issue. Commissioners Widmer and Forman found this reasonable. Commissioner Preston agreed to release Executive Summaries publicly once security threats are removed.  

Chair Brownsberger entertained a renewal of his previous motion. Commissioner Whelan  so moved, and Commissioner Preston seconded.  Roll was taken, with all present Commissioners voting in favor.

Chair Brownsberger requested that the Executive Summaries be completed by the end of the month. Commissioners Ashe, Coppinger, and Preston agreed.

The Commission then discussed whether to publicly post Commissioners Forman and Joy’s staffing analyses. Chair Brownsberger entertained a motion that these documents be posted publicly once complete. Commissioner Cook moved and her motion was seconded. A roll call was taken, with all members present voting in favor.

The Commission then discussed whether to publicly post the Chapter 69 Matrix, the comprehensive spending matrices, and the physical asset lists. Chair Brownsberger entertained a motion to publicly post these documents. Commissioner Widmer moved, and Commissioner Ashe seconded. Roll call taken, with all present Commissioners voting in favor.

The Commission then discussed the final report. Chair Brownsberger requested that the Commissioners who worked on each document make a first attempt at writing findings to the level they are comfortable. The attached report outline was edited to note which Commissioners are responsible for which pieces of the report with the hope that they are completed by the end of October. The Chairs and their staff will then compile the report for Commission review by the end of November.

Chair Brownsberger advised members that the next meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, at 10AM and adjourned the meeting.

You can view the Zoom Recording of the 10/6 meeting here.

You can view the updated Task Matrix here.

You can view the Commission Report Outline here.

You can view the Commission Data Inventory Matrix here.