By Lovell Oates
1. With over 600 people in the County jails, why haven’t you re-activated Department of Corrections (DOC) policy 106.202 (Good Time) and make it retro-active for everyone that has completed all their mandates and directives?
2. Why not let inmates who have been incarcerated 10 years on their sentence with no more than seven years until their scheduled release date (SRD), and that are able to have proof of a job and a stable residence, completed all directives and mandates, completed at least two DOC programs or educational programs such as completing a GED, A.A., A.A.S., or technical certificates, be released on home monitoring under DOC policy, which doesn’t stipulate an amount of time? Also, the inmate would be able to pay for the monitoring (DOC policy 206.101).
Entering either or both of the transitions plans immediately will solve the over-crowding problem, reward inmates that have been pro-active in preparing for their release and help the inmates be able to come back and contribute to their community. And most importantly it will save the taxpayers several millions of dollars. Also, implementing these plans will not require any legislature approval because these are already on the books as DOC policies for Good Time, DOC policy 106.202 and home monitoring (DOC policy 206.101).
Sending inmates to county jails is clearly creating safety issues, due to the simple fact that most of the inmates being sent to the jails are inmates that have been incarcerated a substantial amount of time (five years or more) with at least three years left. By sending them to county jails a hardship has been created upon their families and them.
The phone calls cost three times more. Most of the jails are hours longer drives away, the canteen charges three times more, and most importantly the inmates are not able to get jobs to pay for any of these hardships placed upon them.
Mr. Tom Roy, you have the power to help our communities by releasing inmates — both men (fathers and sons) and women (mothers and daughters) — that can make an immediate positive impact on our communities by using the tools they have acquired while incarcerated. The tools are the proven strategies the Department of Corrections uses to reduce the recidivism rate.
Also Mr. Roy, this will not be a public safety issue due to the fact that the inmates released on home monitoring will have GPS and will be tracked closer when released than they were in prison. Plus, anyone released based upon “good time” can start out on home monitoring for the first 90 days. Therefore, any concerns about public safety will be minimal, and the people that are going to violate would, either now or seven years from now.
Plus Mr. Roy, I heard at the community meeting on the north side you admitted that the DOC is historically and institutionally racist. If this is how you truly feel, then as commissioner it is your obligation — no, your duty — to begin to make the decisions that will correct the actions and policies of the DOC. As a victim of not just DOC’s but also Minnesota’s and Hennepin County’s racist policies, I believe your Legacy of Righteousness can start with implementation of these two policies. And if not, you have shown us what your word means.
Lovell Oates lives in Lino Lakes.