AFSCME calls for pressure on lege in CIP issue

Legislative pressure is key in keeping two Department of Correction facilities open in the face of budget shortfalls and a possible department restructure, says AFSCME officials.
AFSCME 5 said the DOC made an $18 million budget request to address a structural shortfall in the DOC funding, and while the state House passed legislation that included the funding, the Senate did not. Since then, “a deficit has accumulated at an unsustainable rate,” AFSCME said.
The two facilities under the gun are in Togo and Willow River and more than 150 union members would lose their jobs if they were closed. These facilities run boot-camp type programs, called the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP), for low-level offenders.
“Moose Lake is the home facility — everyone comes to Moose Lake first, and then are divided between Willow River and Togo,” says Tom Danger of AFSCME Local 3887 and who also serves as vice president of the AFSCME Corrections Policy Committee.
Those who need more chemical dependency treatment generally go to Willow River first, he said.
The highly regimented programs include lots of marching and physical training and everything is completed in teams and on a schedule, Danger said. There are also chemical dependency programs, GED programs and other education opportunity.
The programs are widely considered successful, as those who have come out of it tend to have a lower recidivism rate and also have the possibility of dropping time off their sentences, Danger said.
The union has held rallies at both facilities and has provided yard signs to raise awareness in the communities of the threats to the facilities. The union has also held phone banks for members to call legislators.
“We’re hoping other union members can call their own legislators and ask them to vote to pass a supplemental budget of $18 million,” he said.
If there is any restructuring to the facilities or the DOC as a whole, AFSCME wants to ensure members have a voice in what results.
AFSCME Council 5 has also circulated a petition asking legislators and the Governor to fully fund programs to avoid facility closures and suspend the proposed closures until legislative deliberations occur.

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