Members meet with state legislators in Moorhead
Members across the state are continuing to meet with their state legislators, with the most recent meeting occurring in Moorhead on Jan. 21.
One dozen members from the Dept. of Corrections’ (DOC) field services division met with Sen. Kent Eken (SD-4), Rep. Paul Marquart (HD-4B) and Rep. Ben Lien (HD-4A) to talk about the important work they do for the community in client supervision. Areas represented by staff included probation services, Intensive Supervised Release, parole and pre-sentence investigation and supervision, and juvenile casework and supervision.
Photo at right: Dept. of Corrections' field services agents meet with Sen. Kent Eken, Rep. Paul Marquart and Rep. Ben Lien in Moorhead Jan. 21.
Much like their colleagues in correctional facilities, correction agents share concerns about safety, caseloads and staffing levels. Local 1502’s Valerie Dorff said the group partnered with DOC staff to convey common concerns to the legislators, ”Based on workload issues, we have a message we’re united on: additional staff will help us make a bigger impact and better serve our clients and the public.”
An agent responsible for supervising the highest-risk offenders with the Intensive Supervised Release North program told legislators safety is also an important issue for him.
“My biggest concern is law enforcement having the ability to communicate by radio with their partners. When we’re in the community conducting visits, no one knows where we are. A lot of the rural communities we cover do not have 24-hour law enforcement coverage. Agents have experienced situations where response time can exceed 30 minutes,” he said. “It’s not so much having a partner but it’s communicating with someone, so you know you have help on the way if necessary.”
Dorff said despite none of their area legislators serving on corrections or public safety committees, “They were very, very receptive to learning about what we do. They invited all of us to contact them in the future if we had additional concerns – they were very open to having a continuing dialogue.”
“It’s important to educate our legislators on our day-to-day operations and what we encounter. They’ll now be able to put a face to the employees affected when they’re reviewing legislation,” a member added.