Minnesota corrections commissioner wants $44 million for 120 new officers statewide

February 26, 2019 10:26 PM

Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell told a House committee Tuesday he would like $44 million to hire 120 new officers in prisons statewide.

"We need to commit enough resources to make sure our facilities stay safe," said Schnell. "And, we have to make sure our facilities are not only safe for our staff, but for inmates as well."

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Schnell told lawmakers the DOC also needs to do a better job of recruiting and retaining new corrections officers especially women and minorities.


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"We have to become more diverse and we have to reach out to young people," said Schnell. "We have to make sure we educate them on the career advantages there are if they become a corrections officer and I think we will accomplish those goals."

Rep. Nick Zerwas (R) Elk River, asked Schnell about his plans to retain corrections officers after citing statistics that show nearly one-third of new corrections officers hired by the DOC left for better-paying jobs in county jails.

"We can talk about hiring all these new corrections officers until we are blue in the face," said Zerwas. "But, the reality is we have dozens and dozens and dozens of jobs we cannot fill because we do not have enough people interested, and those we do hire leave within five years."

Schnell said compensation is a real issue that would have to be discussed during labor negotiations with the union locals which represent the states 2,000 corrections officers.

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Jay Kolls

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