To the editor,
On April 15, the Chisago County Board will vote on whether or not Chisago County should eliminate the State Department of Corrections (DOC) office and move adult felony community supervision to a Community Corrections Act (CCA) delivery system.
I have been a public servant for over 20 years, with one primary mantra; be a good steward of taxpayers money. I have used that mantra in making decisions, both small and large. In addition, we must consider if a service or product is worth the cost to taxpayers. Right now, the County Probation Office (CPO) and Department of Corrections (DOC) model is very effective in serving the communities in Chisago County, with both departments having experience in different levels of supervision.
In reviewing the proposal to go to CCA, I don’t see any additional service to the community that justifies the increase cost to the county and the taxpayers. The current service for felony supervision comes with an enormous amount of experience, expertise, and training. That would leave a vacuum of knowledge that will require a great deal of time and expense to replicate. To change to CCA model with the idea all DOC employees will simply “transfer” to the county is a leap of faith, one I don’t believe will materialize. DOC employees will lose their jobs.
There WILL be more costs associated to moving to CCA than was being proposed. The county will incur a hefty price tag in just training alone. There are many other issues that will have real-life price tags that I don’t believe are being recognized. The recoupment rate for fees is routinely low for higher risk offenders, and the research supports that reality. Again, what will the county receive in services that we aren’t currently receiving that justifies the increased cost to taxpayers? That must be our primary concern. The answer is, there won’t be. Plain and simple.
The concern of spending more taxpayer money for no additional service or product should be paramount in normal times. But, now it’s even more critical with the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing. We will undoubtedly be facing additional costs, loss of income, and unemployment while we as a county and country endure this pandemic.
This new reality only magnifies the necessity for all of us to be good stewards of taxpayers money.