Minutes from 12/3 Meeting

Special Commission on Correctional Funding Minutes
Friday, December 3, 2021
(virtual meeting)

Commissioners Present:

  • Chair William Brownsberger
  • Chair Michael Day
  • Commission Michael Widmer
  • Commissioner Ben Forman
  • Commissioner Timothy Whelan
  • Commissioner Emi Joy
  • Commissioner Thomas Preston
  • Commissioner Kevin Coppinger
  • Commissioner Thomas Hodgson
  • Commissioner Ed Dolan
  • Commissioner James Morton
  • Commissioner Kevin Keefe
  • Commissioner Kate Cook
  • Commissioner Gerard Horgan
  • Commissioner Michael Ashe

Commissioners Absent:

  • Commissioner Ryan Fattman
  • Commissioner James Cowdell
  • Commissioner Christina Crowley
  • Commissioner Francesca Spina

Chair Brownsberger welcomed a motion to approve minutes from the November 3, 2021, meeting. Role call was taken with all present members approving said minutes.

The Commission then reviewed the task matrix.

The Commission began with a discussion of the NIC Executive Summaries. All Sheriff summaries had been submitted to the Commission. Commissioner Preston clarified that DOC would submit its Executive Summary to the Commission by Tuesday, December 7th to be posted publicly thereafter. Chair Brownsberger specified that all 4 executive summaries would be posted online after the fourth executive summary was received. Chair Brownsberger said that Chair Day and himself had been visiting each of the four facilities to go along with the NIC staffing analyses and that they would share more information on their takeaways during the next Commission meeting.

Chair Brownsberger moved to an update on staffing ratios and employee costs. Commission Forman said that employee costs are included in their table, though they have not run staffing ratios. Chair Brownsberger asked if the work product is ready to be posted for public consumption. Commission Forman said that all 14 Sheriff agencies and DOC have approved the data for public consumption, though some agencies have reservations about FY20 data, as FY20 data appears to distort expenditures. Commissioner Forman questioned if the Commission wants to put out data with concerns over FY20 data without a report yet being written, though he acknowledged that the data report contains footnotes, but in some cases more in depth explanation than a footnote alone may be necessary. Commission Forman explained that the data product is a spreadsheet with spending for program services and health services for FY19, including how much of contracts and staff time are allocated to those. In addition, they also calculated total salaries and total spending, as well as sources of spending, for FY16-FY20, for all agencies. Commission Forman said that this data could tell us about some general trends but that conclusions are difficult to draw based on all of the disruptions. Chair Brownberger asked if Commissioners are comfortable with this data be posted publicly. Commission Preston said that DOC is fine posting this data with the footnotes included. Commissioner Joy expressed concern that DOC expenditures appeared lower in FY20 as payroll was reassigned to another account due to federal COVID relief funding allocated to Massachusetts for first responders, which included corrections officers, during the peak of COVID. Commissioner Preston expressed that this was about $150 million during this time. Commissioner Joy clarified that this was an accounting move that A&F did to maximize all revenue sources during the pandemic. Commissioner Joy and Preston expressed desire for this to be memorialized online with the data being posted. Commissioner Coppinger reiterated this desire. Commissioner Forman said that the footnote does note that these numbers should not be used for overall trends. Chair Brownsberger agreed to posting this data with this note. Chair Brownsberger entertained motion that this data be posted publicly with these caveats. Chair Day moved. A role call was taken, with all present members approving the motion.

Chair Brownsberger moved to the Subcommittee meeting, which has been posted online for public consumption. Commissioner Cook said that the Subcommittee has met with all Sheriff and DOC agencies to discuss numbers following the submission of these numbers. Carrie Hill said that there are small changes to the comprehensive programming matrix, which should be completed and submitted to the Commission by next week. The updated matrix will be posted online once received.

Commission Cook also reported that the Subcommittee has a working draft for its submission to the Commission. Commissioner Dolan said that the Subcommittee is working with Kimberley Hutter to interpret and describe the vast amount of information that the counties and DOC have included in this comprehensive programming matrix. Commissioner Cook said that their final draft should be completed in two weeks following an additional meeting with Ben and Emi regarding their work and numbers and the final submission of the comprehensive programming matrix, on December 17th.

Chair Brownsberger turned to an update on the writing of the report. Chair Brownsberger asked if Commissioners Joy and Forman had written anything to go along with their data analysis. Neither Commissioner Joy nor Forman have yet written the report but since the data has now been reviewed and approved by each agency, they can then work on writing.

Chair Brownsberger said that the Chairs need to meet with each subgroup about report writing between now and the next meeting and further develop a work plan for finishing the narrative. Chairs Brownsberger and Day agreed to develop an outline of issues that need to be discussed and deliberated on by the Commission, which will then be circulated to the Commission for further discussion during the next meeting. Commissioners will have the ability to add to this list. Commissioners Preston and Joy expressed support for this.

Chair Brownsberger then moved conversation to next meeting dates. Chair Brownsberger suggested that after the Commission develops and discusses the issue inventory, there should be a meeting in which the public can provide feedback. The Commission took a role call on vote on this, in which all present members voted in favor.

Chair Brownsberger advised members that the next meeting will take place on Monday, December 20th at 11AM to discuss the issue inventory, as well as to plan a public hearing for early January.

The updated task matrix can be viewed here.

The Cost Analyses can be viewed here.

Ongoing questions for consideration can be viewed here.