The Tri-County Regional Community Corrections Board held a regular meeting at the Polk County Justice Center on Monday morning.
After the call to order, the meeting began with the approval of the monthly statistical review and a review of statistical reports from all departments for the month of May. The Council first heard from Executive Director Andrew Larson, who reported that many of the crimes committed over the past month were drunk driving, drug offenses and failure to appear in court. He noted that he appealed to Chief Probation Officer Jessica Hajicok to mention the pre-trial monitoring program to help address this issue. He then reported to the board of an expensive placement in a juvenile center for which they will have to bear the cost. Larson explained that the prosecution and defense reached an agreement on sentencing a 19-year-old who was not from Polk County for a crime he committed in Polk County before the age of 18, so he could not be tried as an adult, but they did not inform the correctional center of this until after the sentencing. “In this particular case, our organization was not informed before the sentencing. It was after sentencing that the sentencing mechanism involved a fairly long stay away from home, which could potentially costs up to $130,000 in Tri-County. Executive Director Andrew Larson explained. “Obviously that’s a huge bill, especially for someone who isn’t a resident of Polk, Norman or Red Lake County. So I wanted the board to be aware, because we are very budget conscious, especially what we’ve had this year with a lot of lost revenue,” he added. He said the judge has 90 days to respond to the sentence to make a decision, but the Center has 30 days to respond. Chief Probation Officer Jessica Hajicok said she had made a request to have the individual’s sentence reconsidered or re-sentenced. Currently, the matter is under advisement.
The council then received an update on personnel issues from director Andrew Larson, who reported that Kelsey Delisle was now eligible to be a probation officer and started work on June 8. He also reported that youth counselor Kalab Thompson retired from the juvenile center on May. 11, as well as transition officer Heather Sabian, who retired May 31, probation officer Scott Volker on June 2 and corrections officer Michelle Langton on June 8. The board approved the motions unanimously. Larson also reported that they received another resignation notice last Friday, June 10, and are opening an advertisement for a new probation officer and correctional officer at the juvenile center, hopefully before the next board meeting. .
The council then discussed the reopening of the Beta housing unit at the North West Regional Correctional Center (NWRCC). The board heard from prison administrator Joey Pederson that he had reopened his beta housing unit, which can house up to 60 inmates, and had some of the updated COVID-19 protocols, saying some of the restrictions had been reduced. He reported that they had moved around 20 inmates to the reopened unit and were changing the way they housed some men. who do not do well in large populated units to a new third Sigma C accommodation. He reported that staff and some inmates have felt less stressed and more efficient with this change over the past month, but will continue to monitor them in the future. He then reported that with respect to COVID-19 protocols, thanks to new CDC guidelines, masks will continue to be provided, but will only have a recommendation to wear them, rather than a mandate, but noted that if community cases increase again, it will be mandatory to wear them again. They will continue to do COVID screenings for inmates and staff, and any positive cases will be on leave for 2 weeks. He also noted that if any inmates test positive for COVID, they will be tested again five days later, and if they test negative by then, they will be allowed to reintegrate with other inmates.
Council then heard from Chief Probation Officer Jessica Hajicok on an update on the probation service. She first spoke about the pre-trial monitoring program, saying the program started on May 16 and will be a system to monitor those awaiting trial with GPS tracking devices. This way they can keep an eye on them without putting them in one of the jails, which can help reduce the prison population, especially for those who commit less serious crimes in the area. She explained that the hope was to help reduce the number of those who do not show up for court, because the county will know where they are and perhaps prevent repeat offenders from committing new crimes. She then opened up a discussion about the bridging program, suggesting ways to try to improve it and revamp it as they have a vacancy, and there has been a steady decline in referrals and size the number of cases officers are maintaining over the past five years. “We met with social service agencies in Polk, Norman and Red Lake County to discuss the potential future of the bridging program,” executive director Larson explained. “Are there gaps in services that could potentially lead to increased referrals, or are services no longer needed in the volume they were five or six years ago? Then we could just consider leaving it as one transition worker program,” he added. Chief Probation Officer Hajicok said the program recently had a transition officer quit, but he would leave the position open until he decides whether to continue the program with two officers or it will alter the program in some way.
The Council then began discussing a few contracts they had planned to start the following month. The first was with Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. for a memorandum of understanding on a new TCCC salary scale schedule that will take effect July 1, 2022. The other was with the U.S. Department of Justice, on funding American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to award the Center an additional $38,000 with an effective date of June 10 to extend safety and health officer positions at the facility for an additional three months. “We will be extending our Safety and Sanitation Officer positions, which are also grant-funded positions that were due to end by June 30. We are actually able to extend them now for another three months. “explained executive director Larson. “These positions have been extremely helpful to the prison as we have managed our COVID response, as they are primarily responsible for doing a lot of the testing of new arrivals to help us very quickly identify those who are potentially symptomatic or positive for COVID, so we can isolate them and initiate any treatments that might be needed,” he added. Larson explained that they would begin using those funds in early July once their current funds due at the end of the month were used. He also noted that unless they get permission, they can’t use the funds to help pay for overtime coverage. The Board approved the contracts unanimously.
Council then heard again from prison administrator Joey Pederson on an update on the Red River Valley Juvenile Center (RRVJC) construction project, who explained that the schedule was on schedule and that the leaks in the roof had been completely repaired. Gypsum and installation are ahead of schedule, and contractors say they are about 75% complete.
The board ended the meeting by approving the May bills and county bills. The Board approved all invoices unanimously.
The board will meet again on Monday, July 11 at the Tri-County Corrections Center.