MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota lawmaker is making moves at the capitol in the name of safety for corrections officers across the state.
It comes after Oak Park Heights Corrections Officer Joe Parise died of a medical emergency on Monday. He had responded to help a different officer injured in an attack by an inmate.
Another officer, Joseph Gomm died when an inmate attacked him at the Stillwater prison in July.
After a tragic few months, one lawmaker is calling for change. While working his re-election campaign to the Minnesota House, Jack Considine is already focused on trying to fix the issues next session that have left the corrections community reeling.
“I intend to introduce a bill for a lot of new staff,” Considine said. “It is a dangerous job. When you walk in the door, you are in danger.”
Considine spent his career as a security counselor at St. Peter and the Blue Earth County Jail. Last session, he says he heard from more than 50 corrections officers, calling out staffing shortages and a new solitary confinement system for making their jobs even more dangerous.
Officers told WCCO-TV that on Monday, Joe Parise ran the length of nearly two football fields to a housing unit to help a fellow officer attacked by an inmate. They also say that unit was short-staffed that day, making Parise’s run that much more urgent.
Since Gomm’s death in July, Considine has been gathering the numbers at Minnesota prisons, and will call immediately for more hires to be made.
“It’s my intention to name it the ‘Joseph Gomm Bill,’” Considine said.
He is also asking the state auditor to study the life expectancy of corrections staff, out of concern from what he has seen in his own career.
“Fifteen, 20 years of adrenaline, stress, anxiety — these guys are dropping like flies when they finally retire,” he said.
Considine believes it is past time to do something, as he continues to worry what will happen if they do not.
“That worry will never go away,” he said.
A full line-of-duty funeral will be held for Parise on Tuesday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. He leaves behind a wife, young daughter and another baby on the way.