MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time in state history, a group of Minnesota lawmakers held a hearing on prison safety in a prison.
Members of the House Corrections Subcommittee listened to workers at the Stillwater Prison.READ MORE: Brooklyn Park Joins Growing List Of Minnesota Cities Requiring Masks In City Buildings
The hearing was done to start figuring out what resources are needed to keep personnel and inmates safe.
Lawmakers wanted to hear firsthand from the people who work with inmates about what is needed to make sure they are able to come home safely after every shift.
“There should be nobody who walks into this institution by themselves. Joe was by himself and we have to make sure no other officer is by himself when he is attacked or injured again, “said Sgt. John Hillyard.
Joseph Gomm was killed while responding to a call for help from a coworker last year.
Staff would like to see an additional 300 officers department-wide. They believe this would help them do their jobs more effectively and ensure the safety of workers and inmates.READ MORE: Wastewater Testing Reveals Scale Of St. Paul's COVID Spread
The Joseph Gomm bill will be used specifically for custody staff.
“I think we’ve heard very loud and clear that staffing and staffing rations are clearly a big concern for the safety of the residents and the safety of the staff, and I think we have to work to appropriate the right amount of money to fix that problem,” said Rep. John Poston.
Coming up with the money to make Minnesota corrections facilities across the state safe is the first priority for this subcommittee this session.
“The safety of the people who work in this facility is of paramount importance, but I want to be clear that the discussion on staff safety is not dismissal of or disregard for the safety and well-being off those incarcerated in our facilities,” said Commissioner Paul Schnell.
The subcommittee will also work on additional funding for enhanced programming for inmates.MORE NEWS: 'I'm Scared For My Patients': As COVID Cases Surge, Delta Plus Variant Worries Medical Experts
Subcommittee members will return to Stillwater next week to have a listening session with inmates to hear their concerns about safety.