Minnesota is known for its fairness, generally, with respect to opportunities for workers in the labor sector. In an overall stable economy (for now), current DFL governor, Tim Walz, strengthens this association.
Employers are slowly hiring more former convicts as a historically tight labor market offers them incentives to look past the stigma of a prison record. The effort to further bolster hiring faces limits. Some types of felons are barred from working in certain industries like health care, financial services or around children. But there has been some movement at the Legislature to relax some prohibitions that can keep ex-offenders from landing a job or place to live.
The governor’s wife ties such commitments to reducing the overall prison recidivism rates in the state.
According to (Deputy Corrections Commissioner Sarah) Walker and state statistics, Minnesota prisons cost taxpayers more than $50,000 per inmate per year. State jails are near capacity, with more than 9,500 inmates. Another 111,000 adult offenders, including those released from county jails, are on yearslong probation. Most have served time for crimes against people, property, drug and drunken-driving offenses.
“We look to reduce the number of people revoked from supervised release as way to reduce the prison population, which creates greater staff safety and also allows for evidenced-based solutions such as drug-and-alcohol or mental health treatment,” Walker said.
The Department of Corrections spends about $600 million annually on prison and probation services. Minnesota First Lady Gretchen Walz, a career educator, has made prison reform a mission.