Rep. Considine touts 2 prison-related bills passed by state legislature

(Mankato, MN) – Representative Jack Considine credits bi-partisan support for getting two bills passed in the Minnesota Legislature.

First was the ombudsman bill, which Considine said was eliminated in 2003 under Governor Tim Pawlenty’s leadership.

“It’s a tool for both inmates and staff to have somebody that they can talk to outside the system to look at systematic problems within the prison,” said Considine.

The corrections ombudsman was created on an experimental basis in 1972, then adopted into law in 1973, according to the Minnesota House website.  The office was defunded in 2002 and eliminated the following year.

The bill passed in both the House and the Senate and was signed by Governor Walz.

Mark Haase, the Executive Director of Minnesota Justice and Research Center, was hired by Governor Walz for the ombudsman position in December.

Considine said the other highlight was the Joseph Gomm bill, which will allow the Minnesota Department of Corrections to hire 67 additional security counselors in 2020, with another 10 counselors added the following year.

Considine introduced the bill after Joseph Gomm – a corrections officer – was killed by an inmate at Stillwater state prison in July 2018.

“It wasn’t quite as many as I wanted, but more than they’ve added in decades,” said Considine.  “I had bi-partisan support on both,” he said.  “I was actually very pleased with my committee, both Democrats and Republicans.  We did work together.”